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Drugs and the Pleura*

Sandra Y. Morelock, MD; Steven A. Sahn, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

*From the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC.

Correspondence to: Steven A. Sahn, MD, FCCP, Professor of Medicine and Director, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 96 Jonathan Lucas St, Suite 812, PO Box 250623, Charleston, SC 29425; e-mail: sahnsa@musc.edu



Chest. 1999;116(1):212-221. doi:10.1378/chest.116.1.212
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Purpose: To identify the drugs associated with pleural disease and to review the clinical, radiographic, and pleural fluid findings that occur, the natural history of the pleural reaction, and the response to therapy.

Data sources: English-language articles published from January 1966 through April 1998 were identified through searches of the MEDLINE database, selective bibliographies, and personal files.

Data extraction: Case reports, letters, and review articles were assessed for relevancy. Reports of drug-associated pleural effusion, pleuritis, and/or pleural thickening were analyzed. Drug effect was believed to be causal when exposure induced pleural disease, when the pleural response remitted on discontinuation of the drug, and when the pleural disease recurred with reexposure. Drug association was inferred when the pleural disease occurred following drug exposure and remitted after drug discontinuation. The incidence, clinical presentation, dose and duration of drug therapy, chest radiographic findings, pleural fluid analysis, and response to therapy were recorded.

Conclusions: A relatively small number of drugs were found to induce pleural disease when compared to the number of drugs implicated in causing disease of the lung parenchyma. Treatment of drug-induced pleural disease consists of drug therapy withdrawal and corticosteroids for refractory cases. Knowledge of the potential of drug-induced pleural disease will provide a clinical advantage to the physician and should lead to decreased morbidity and economic burden for the patient by avoidance of further diagnostic testing.


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