Fetal Pleural Effusion
Pleural effsion in the fetus is, like in an adult, excess fluid between the two membranes (the pleurae) that envelop the lungs and line the inner wall of the chest cavity in a fetus. The pleural effusion may be unilateral or bilateral and it may be an isolated finding in an otherwise normal fetus or associated with generalized edema (hydrops). If untreated, fetal pleural effusion often causes severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory insufficiency. Treatment is by the prenatal insertion of a thoracoamniotic shunt (to shunt the pleural effusion into the amniotic fluid). Survival after this procedure is over 90% in fetuses with isolated pleural effusion and around 50% in those with associated hydrops.