The pleura is an indispensable part of the respiratory system. Its job is to function as a cushion for the lungs and lessen the amount of friction between the chest cavity, the rib cage, and the lungs. Each lung is surrounded by a two-layered membrane called the pleura. The layers are kept apart by a minute quantity of a viscous lubricant called pleural fluid.

A variety of medical disorders, such as cancer and pleural effusions, are examples of things that might cause damage to the pleura. When there is an accumulation of excess fluid between the pleural membranes, several different treatments may be utilized to drain the fluid or remove the gap between the membranes.

Anatomy of Pleura

Each lung contains two pleurae, which are single membranes that fold back on themselves to form two layers. A thin pleural fluid fills the pleural cavity (the space between the membranes).

The pleura consists of two layers altogether.

  • Visceral pleura. This is a delicate, fluid membrane that surrounds the surface of a lung and extends between the lobes (called the hilum).
  • Parietal pleura. This is the outer membrane that covers the inner chest wall and diaphragm.

The hilum, which also acts as the entrance site for the bronchus, blood arteries, and nerves, connects the visceral and parietal pleura.

Mesothelial cells create pleural fluid, which fills the intrapleural space. When the lungs expand and compress, the fluid enables the layers to flow past one another.

Associated Disorders

A variety of disorders may damage the pleura or impair its function. Damage to the membranes or an excess of pleural fluid may compromise breathing and result in negative respiratory symptoms.

  • Pleural Effusion.  When this occurs, it might considerably hinder breathing at times. Pleural effusion is most often caused by congestive heart failure, although it may also be caused by lung injury or cancer.
  • Malignant Pleural Effusion. An effusion containing cancer cells is known as a malignant pleural effusion. The disease that has spread to the lungs is the most common cause.
  • Mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the result of asbestos exposure at work. Difficulty breathing, trouble swallowing, and visual and arm edema are all symptoms of this condition.

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