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Chest. 1976 Sep;70(03):328-31.

Pleural fluid pH in parapneumonic effusions.


The pH and carbon dioxide tension were measured in 24 consecutive parapneumonic effusions, along with the leukocyte count, leukocytic differential count, and levels of glucose and protein. Three categories of parapneumonic effusions were characterized: (1) empyemas; (2) benign (nonloculated) effusions; and (3) loculated effusions. A pH greater than 7.30 was present in all ten benign effusions, and spontaneous resolution occurred in each case. All ten empyemas and the four loculated effusions had a pH less than 7.30. All four loculated effusions required drainage with a chest tube for resolution. The pH of the pleural fluid alone separated the empyemas and loculated effusions from benign effusions. The early separation of parapneumonic effusions on the basis of the pleural fluid appears useful. If the pH is greater than 7.30, a benign effusion is present, and spontaneous resolution is likely. If the pH is less than 7.30, loculation of the pleural space may occur regardless of whether the effusion fulfills the criteria for empyema.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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