A pleurectomy is a surgical procedure undertaken to remove some or all of the pleura, which is a two-layered membrane that lines the chest cavity. The parietal pleura is the outer layer of the membrane, and lines the chest wall. The visceral pleura is the inner layer, wrapped around the lungs.
A pleurectomy may be performed for a number of medical conditions including pleural effusion, which is fluid collected between the membranes; malignant pleural mesothelioma; and chest trauma.
During the surgery an incision is made above the diseased area, identified through the use of X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans. Once the diseased tissue is precisely located, both the outer chest lining (the parietal pleura) and the inner membrane lining the lung (the visceral pleura) are removed. If the surgeon is facing malignant pleural mesothelioma some outer lung tissue may also be removed.
A pleurectomy may also include an initial chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment while the chest is still open. For mesothelioma, treatments will continue for some weeks after the surgery. Further treatment of pleural effusion will depend on whether or not the collection of fluid continues in the pleural area.