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Pleurodesis (say “pler-oh-DEE-sus”) is treatment to keep fluid from building up around your lungs.

Normally there is some space between the outside of your lungs and your chest wall. This space gives your lungs room to expand when you breathe.

But some health problems, such as pneumonia, cancer, and heart failure, can cause fluid to build up in that space. Your lungs no longer have room to expand. It makes it hard to breathe.

To fix this, the doctor will put a tube in your chest to drain the extra fluid. Then he or she will put talcum powder or an antibiotic solution into the space between your lungs and chest wall. The powder or solution will irritate and inflame the tissues so that after several days the tissues will stick together. The space where fluid used to build up will be gone.

It takes 30 minutes or less to put in the chest tube. Then the tube must stay in place for 1 to 3 days, until the tissues stick together. The procedure can be painful, but you will get medicine to help with pain.