Home | News | Donate | Directions | Careers| Research

Center for Thoracic Oncology

Diseases & Conditions

Pleural Diseases - Treatments  

How are Pleural Diseases Treated?

After a careful evaluation of your condition, we will recommend the treatment that is appropriate to your particular circumstances. Depending on the pleural condition and its cause, treatment may include:


Removal of a bulla, which is an air pocket in the lung that is greater than one centimeter in diameter


Using chemotherapeutic drugs to kill cancer cells may be used before or after surgery, alone, or in combination with other treatments such as radiation treatment. These medications are usually given intravenously but may occasionally be given in pill form.


Acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin), and codeine cough suppressants relieve pleurisy symptoms.

Minimally Invasive Tumor Removal

Video-Assisted Thorascopic Surgery (VATS) is a minimally invasive alternative to open chest surgery that involves less pain and recovery time. After giving you a sedative, the physician will make tiny incisions in your chest and then insert a fiber-optic camera called a thorascope as well as surgical instruments. As the physician moves the thorascope around, images that provide important information are projected on a video monitor.

VATS is not appropriate for all patients; you should have a thorough discussion with your provider before making a decision. It is often not recommended in people who have had chest surgery in the past, because remaining scar tissue can make accessing the chest cavity more challenging and thus riskier.

Pleurodesis or Pleural Effusion

Your surgeon injects a chemical agent into the pleural space (the area between the two layers of tissue that cover your lungs). The chemical irritates the layers, which eliminates the chance for fluid buildup.

PleurX Catheter

A PleurX catheter is a thin, flexible tube your surgeon places in the pleural space to drain the fluid accumulation associated with pleural effusion.

Radiation Therapy

The use of high-energy x-rays and other sources of radiation to kill cancer cells.


The removal of pleural fluid with a needle or a catheter that your surgeon inserts through your ribs in the back of your chest into your chest wall.


During thoracostomy, your physician will inject a local anesthetic into your chest wall where the fluid is located and insert a plastic tube into your chest between two ribs. Your physician will then connect the tube to a suction device, which will help to remove the fluid

Tumor Ablation

BMC physicians may use tumor ablation to destroy or shrink a tumor or to relieve the symptoms of a patient who is not a candidate for surgery. When using the minimally invasive technique of tumor ablation, the physician employs catheters to ablate (destroy) cancerous tissue. Guided by computed tomography (CT), the physician inserts a specially equipped needle (probe) into the tumor that transmits cancer-killing energy into the malignant cells.

Our Team
Patient Information
News & Videos


Call: 617.638.5600
Fax: 617.638.7382

Boston Medical Center
Center for Thoracic Oncology
Moakley Building
830 Harrison Avenue, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02118

Refer a Patient

Call: 617.638.5600
Fax: 617.638.7382

Administrative Office

88 East Newton Street,
Robinson B-402
Boston, MA 02118
Call: 617.638.5600
Fax: 617.638.7382

Learn More

Quick Links

Thoracic Surgery
Radiation Oncology
Head and Neck Cancer Center of Excellence
Hematology & Medical Oncology
Directions to BMC
BMC Campus Virtual Tour

Downloads (PDF)

BMC Campus Map
What Makes BMC Special