Pleurodesis: indications and radiologic appearance

Jpn J Radiol. 2015 May;33(5):241-5. doi: 10.1007/s11604-015-0412-7. Epub 2015 Mar 20.


Pleurodesis is frequently performed to prevent recurrence of pneumothorax or recurrent pleural effusion in benign or malignant conditions. In essence, it involves producing an area of adhesion between the parietal and the visceral layers of the pleura. The approach to this procedure can be divided into chemical and mechanical methods. Chemical pleurodesis is performed by introducing various substances such as talc, bleomycin, povidone iodine or other chemicals into the pleural space typically using a pleural catheter. The instilled substances cause inflammation of the parietal and the visceral layers of the pleura and leads to adhesion of the pleural surfaces, preventing further fluid or air accumulation. Mechanical pleurodesis, which is performed with thoracotomy or thoracoscopy, involves mechanical irritation of the pleura or removal of parietal pleura. It is important for the radiologist to develop an understanding of the clinical indications for pleurodesis, methods for the procedure and post-procedure imaging appearance so the radiologist can provide a correct interpretation and avoid misdiagnosis of the radiologic appearance as chronic infection, tumor or other entities with a similar appearance. Thus, the aim of this article is to review the indications, techniques and post-procedural appearances of pleurodesis from an imaging perspective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Pleura / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pleural Effusion / diagnostic imaging
  • Pleural Effusion / prevention & control*
  • Pleurodesis / methods*
  • Pneumothorax / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumothorax / prevention & control*
  • Recurrence
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed