Are chest radiographs useful in the monitoring of pleural fluid drainage in pleural effusions?

Updated: Dec 28, 2018
  • Author: Kamran Boka, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Answer

Repeat the chest radiographs when drainage decreases to less than 100 mL/day to evaluate whether the effusion has been fully drained. If a large effusion persists radiographically, reevaluate the position of the chest catheter using chest CT scanning to ensure that the drainage ports are still positioned within the pleural collection. If the catheter is positioned appropriately, consider injecting thrombolytics through the chest tube to break up clots that may be obstructing drainage. Alternatively, chest CT scanning may reveal lung entrapment/trapped lung, which is unlikely to respond to further drainage.


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