A pleural empyema is the presence of pus in the pleural cavity.
Antibiotics have made the condition uncommon.
A pleural empyema is, in effect, an abscess:
- there is usually a high swinging fever and a leukocytosis
- the most effective treatment is surgical drainage
There is a spectrum of abnormality from pure exudative parapneumonic effusions to frank pus. It is important to treat any effusion with large numbers of inflammatory cells and/or organisms as an empyema.