Pleural effusion - lung drain - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation

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Pleural effusion - lung drain


My Mum has not had an easy time of it since her heart attack in March; triple heart bypass, cardiac tamponade, AF, low BP, haemotoma resulting in debridement and VAC. Further to her second discharge she became increasingly breathless, and she has just had almost a litre of fluid drained from her lung.

Firstly I am concerned about how the process was carried out; her lung was drained without the use of ultrasound guidance, then a couple of Nurses who had never removed a lung drain before took the drain out without stitching the hole/simply placed a dressing on her back and no final chest x-ray was taken. Am I overreacting please?

Secondly, she is now back home and her breathing doesn't seemed to have improved. She is constantly tired (more than ever before) and is still breathless. Is this to be expected considering all that she has gone through please?

Thank you

11 Replies

No I don't think that you are over reacting. I had an empyema two years ago. It was drained using a scanner and syringes instead of a rubber drain. Following that I had 4 weeks of IV antibiotics in hospital and at home and two xrays to check that everything had begun to settle down and that the fluid hadn't built up again. They do seem to have been rather cavalier in just discharging her with no follow up. If you aren't happy with how your Mum is get back on to them. Chivvy your GP if need be. Take her temperature because this can tell you if the infection is building up again. Good luck.

D0nna49 in reply to Hidden

Thank you! :) I hope you are back to good health now!

From your description of your Mother's Problems it is not surprising that recovery is very slow. I think that from memory of my Father's wound drain it was allowed to heal by itself covered only by a dressing. Normally the chest x-ray is taken before it is removed. Logically it makes sense to ensure the fluid is out before removing the drain. Your Question about ultra sound is a clinical decision. If the fluid is obvious on scan then the Doctors etc can work out where the best place isfor the drain to be located. Your Mother's breathlessness could be due to a number of reasons. The safest advice I can give is to discuss the issues with your GP. If you have immediate concerns then ring 111.

D0nna49 in reply to Badbessie

Thank you! So much has not gone according to plan I can't risk anything else happening to my very fragile Mum. Hope your Dad is well these days :)

he survived that, ignored advice and lived twenty years more very happily! I hope your mother as the same good fortune.

D0nna49 in reply to Badbessie

Thank you!

Donna49, I had a lung lobectomy 5 years ago, and yes, when they took out the lung drain, they packed the area rather than suturing it. I believe this was to allow any more residual exudate to be absorbed by the packing which was frequently changed. Your mother obviously has numerous medical conditions, and I would expect you will be quite busy seeing that she sees the appropriate specialists. My best wishes to you and to your mother. judg69

D0nna49 in reply to judg69

Thank you for the explanation judg69. We have an appointment with the Cardiac Registrar next month, but I am trying to convince her to see our GP in the meantime which is proving impossible as she fears having to go to hospital again.

I hope all is well with your health. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

The hospital where your mum was sounds terrible i,v had 4 lung drains and had stitching after drains removed then had chest xrays done aswell. Your mum should see her gp if shes still struggling with her breathing because removing the fluid should of helped with her breathing good luck and hope your mum feeling better soon xx

D0nna49 in reply to tavymaid

Wow, 4 lung drains, sorry to hear that! Hope you are much better now :)

The hospital saved her life, so its hard to complain too much. Hopefully I can convince her to go to the GP tomorrow!

Thank you for your kind words and support xx

Thank you yes getting there now, fingers crossed all goes well for your mum xx

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