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Pathophysiology of pleural cavity disorders 

Pathophysiology of pleural cavity disorders
Pathophysiology of pleural cavity disorders

Davide Chiumello

and Cristina Mietto

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date: 25 February 2020

The pleural cavity is normally a virtual space that is essential to guarantee the mechanical coupling between the lung and the chest wall. The volume of pleural liquid is determined by the equilibrium of fluid turnover. The determinants of this balance are the Starling forces, the lymphatic drainage, and the active trans-membrane transport. When fluid or air accumulate inside the pleural cavity, pleural pressure rises to atmospheric level causing the lung to collapse while the chest wall to expand. The displacement is not equally distributed between lung and chest wall, because it depends upon their own compliance. Pneumothorax and pleural effusion are common diseases in critically-ill patients. Pneumothorax is divided in two groups based upon the aetiological mechanism—spontaneous and traumatic. Pleural effusion is classified as transudates or exudates, mainly based on protein content; this classification comprises different pathological mechanisms beneath the two kind of pleural effusion.

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