Pleural effusion is a collection of excess fluid that builds up in the space that surrounds the lungs.
The causes of pleural effusion vary. Pleural effusion is often described as either primary or secondary. The most common cause is a malformation in the chest, called a chylothorax. Pleural effusion may also be caused by an underlying fetal condition or chromosomal abnormality, or sometimes even an infection. In some cases, a definitive diagnosis may not be fully made until after the baby is born.
Pleural effusion can be confirmed using ultrasound. The lungs will appear to float within excess fluid.
Sometimes, pleural effusions will resolve on their own. In some cases, Dr. Mehra may place a shunt (small tube) into the chest of the baby to allow for drainage of excess fluid so the lungs can complete normal development.
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