Tuberculous empyema

Tuberculous empyema is a chronic, active infection of the pleural space characterized by thick rind of pleura with thick and irregular calcification of both parietal and visceral pleura usually surrounding a loculated pleural fluid which contains a large number of tubercle bacilli 1.

It is different from the more common tuberculous pleural effusions which is an inflammatory response to a localized paucibacillary pleural infection with tuberculosis.

Treatment consists of pleural space drainage, decortication to allow re-expansion of the trapped lung and decortication plus pneumonectomy to remove a lung 2. Adjuvant antituberculous chemotherapy may also be given, but usually leads to development of drug resistance as the drugs are unable to cross the thick calcified pleural barrier 3

Share article

Article information

rID: 29055
System: Chest
Section: Pathology
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Tuberculos empyema
  • Chronic tuberculous empyema
  • Chronic tuberculous empyemas
  • Tuberculous empyemas

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Case 1: chronic tuberculous empyema
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.
    Loadinganimation

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.