Why is the identification of parapneumonic effusions the highest diagnostic priority for patients with pleural effusion (fluid on the lungs)?

Updated: Dec 28, 2018
  • Author: Kamran Boka, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Of the common causes for exudative pleural effusions, parapneumonic effusions have the highest diagnostic priority. Even in the face of antibiotic therapy, infected pleural effusions can rapidly coagulate and organize to form fibrous peels that might require surgical decortication. Therefore, quickly assess pleural fluid characteristics predictive of a complicated course to identify parapneumonic effusions that require urgent tube drainage. These are observed more commonly in indolent anaerobic pneumonias than in typical community-acquired pneumonia.

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