Pleurectomy decortication in the treatment of the "trapped lung" in benign and malignant pleural effusions

Thorac Surg Clin. 2013 Feb;23(1):51-61, vi. doi: 10.1016/j.thorsurg.2012.10.007.


Trapped lung is defined by the inability of the lung to expand and fill the thoracic cavity because of a restricting "peel." This restriction may be secondary to a benign inflammatory or fibrotic cortex or to a malignant visceral pleural tumor. This condition has a significant impact on the patient's quality of life by causing dyspnea. This article discusses the role of surgery in relieving the trapped lung, including decortication in benign disease and pleurectomy in malignant disease. The surgical approaches of video-assisted thoracoscopy and thoracotomy are contrasted and the future potential for surgical trials in this condition is outlined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Empyema, Pleural / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / etiology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / surgery*
  • Mesothelioma / complications
  • Pleura / surgery*
  • Pleural Effusion / complications
  • Pleural Effusion / surgery*
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / surgery
  • Pleural Neoplasms / complications
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted / methods
  • Thoracoscopy / methods
  • Thoracotomy / methods