pleural empyema

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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.

Last reviewed 07/2020