Empyema is a collection of pus in the space between the lung and the inside of the chest wall (pleural space).
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Empyema is caused by an infection that spreads from the lung. It leads to a buildup of pus in the pleural space.
There can be a pint or more of infected fluid. This fluid puts pressure on the lungs.
Risk factors include:
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Lung abscess
- Thoracic surgery
- Trauma or injury to the chest
In rare cases, empyema can occur when a needle is inserted through the chest wall to draw off fluid in the pleural space (thoracentesis)
Pictures & Images
The major features of the lungs include the bronchi, the bronchioles and the alveoli. The alveoli are the microscopic blood vessel-lined sacks in which oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are exchanged.
Air is breathed in through the nasal passageways, travels through the trachea and bronchi to the lungs.
Chest tube insertion – series
The pleural space is the space between the inner and outer lining of the lung. It is normally very thin, and lined only with a very small amount of fluid.
Review Date : 5/12/2009
Reviewed By : James Lee, MD, Department of Surgery, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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