In rare cases, empyema can occur after thoracentesis. This is a procedure in which a needle is inserted through the chest wall to draw off fluid in the pleural space for medical diagnosis or treatment.
Symptoms of empyema may include any of the following:
Chest pain, which worsens when you breathe in deeply (pleurisy)
The goal of treatment is to cure the infection. This involves the following:
Placing a tube in your chest to drain the pus
Giving you antibiotics to control the infection
If you have problems breathing, you may need surgery to help your lung expand properly.
When empyema complicates pneumonia, the risk of permanent lung damage and death goes up. Long-term treatment with antibiotics and drainage are needed.
In general, most people fully recover from empyema.
Having empyema may lead to the following:
Reduced lung function
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of empyema.
Prompt and effective treatment of lung infections may prevent some cases of empyema.
Broaddus VC, Light RW. Pleural effusion. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al., eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 79.
McCool FD. Diseases of the diaphragm, chest wall, pleura, and mediastinum. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 99.
Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.