Pleural effusion risk factors

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Prince Tano Djan, BSc, MBChB [2]; Nate Michalak, B.A.


Common risk factors in the development of pleural effusion include pre-existing lung damage or disease,[1] chronic smokers,[1] neoplasia (e.g. lung cancer patients),[2] alcohol abuse,[2] use of certain medications (e.g. dasatinib in the treatment of patients with chronic myelogenous leukaemia[3] and immunosuppressive medicine),[2] occupational exposure to asbestos,[1] and surgery-related risk factors.[4]

Risk Factors

Common risk factors in the development of pleural effusion are as follows:

  • Increased serum VEGF, TNF-α and C3 levels are identified as important risk factors for presence of pleural effusions in POEMS syndrome[5]
  • As a complication of some surgical procedures (e.g. Nuss procedure for correction of pectus excavatum)[6]

Surgery-related risk factors include the following:[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 West HJ (2015). "JAMA Oncology Patient Page. Malignant Pleural Effusions". JAMA Oncol. 1 (2): 260. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.0671. PMID 26181036.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Zablockis R, Petruskeviciene R, Nargela RV (2010). "[Causes and risk factors of pleural empyema and complicated parapneumonic pleural effusion]". Medicina (Kaunas). 46 (2): 113–9. PMID 20440084.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Latagliata R, Breccia M, Fava C, Stagno F, Tiribelli M, Luciano L; et al. (2013). "Incidence, risk factors and management of pleural effusions during dasatinib treatment in unselected elderly patients with chronic myelogenous leukaemia". Hematol Oncol. 31 (2): 103–9. doi:10.1002/hon.2020. PMID 22815278.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gupta A, Daggett C, Behera S, Ferraro M, Wells W, Starnes V (2004). "Risk factors for persistent pleural effusions after the extracardiac Fontan procedure". J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 127 (6): 1664–9. doi:10.1016/j.jtcvs.2003.09.011. PMID 15173721.
  5. Cui RT, Yu SY, Huang XS, Zhang JT, Tian CL, Dou LP; et al. (2015). "Incidence and risk factors of pleural effusions in patients with POEMS syndrome". Hematol Oncol. 33 (2): 80–4. doi:10.1002/hon.2135. PMID 24519469.
  6. Cheng YL, Lin CT, Wang HB, Chang H (2014). "Pleural effusion complicating after Nuss procedure for pectus excavatum". Ann Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 20 (1): 6–11. PMID 23411850.

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