Diagnostic thoracentesis is indicated when pleural effusion is a new finding and the etiology is unknown. Observation without thoracentesis may be warranted in pleural effusions due to uncomplicated CHF, ascites, and other volume overload states. This patients pneumonia may be the cause of the effusion; therefore, it cannot be determined if the effusion is caused by CHF alone. It is not possible to determine the etiology of a pleural effusion based on chest radiograph alone, and therefore malignancy cannot be determined at this point.1
- The effusion is a new finding and its etiology is unknown.
1. Sahn SA. State of the art. The pleura. Am Rev Respir Dis 1988;138:84.
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Hospital Physician Board Review Manuals
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