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Pleurodesis and Decortication

Pleurodesis and decortication are two thoracoscopic procedures to treat pleural effusion and its complications. A variety of conditions from cancer to infection can cause excess fluid buildup in the protective tissue lining surrounding the lungs and other organs of the body. This extra liquid leads not only to difficulty breathing but also can eventually scar the lungs and further inhibit their function.

At NorthShore, our board-certified thoracic specialists have vast experience using minimally invasive video assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) for both pleurodesis and decortication. VATS involves the insertion of pencil-thin surgical instruments and a miniaturized camera through tiny incisions in the chest area.

Preparing for Pleurodesis and Decortication

You may need to be seen by your primary care physician prior to undergoing these procedures. Your pre-operative clearance will include a discussion of your medical history and a physical exam. You may also be required to undergo several diagnostic tests, including:

  • Blood Workup
  • EKG
  • PET Scan
  • PFT/Lung Function Test

What to Expect

Pleurodesis and decortication are performed under general anesthesia. VATS, also called thoracoscopy, involves several small incisions made under the arm and between the ribs. The incisions range in size from about 1 to 2 inches. Typically these procedures require 3 to 5 days in the hospital.

After the procedure, your pain will be controlled using one of several methods: a pump that delivers pain medicine through your intravenous line at your demand, by a nurse administering medicine through your intravenous line at your request or through oral medicines.

After your discharge from the hospital, you will want to make arrangements to have someone drive you home. 

For More Information

To schedule an appointment with one of our thoracic surgeons, please call 847.570.2868.