Getting to the heart of pleural effusions: A case study

Susan Mertin, Jo Ann V. Sawatzky, William L. Diehl-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: To provide nurse practitioners (NPs) with an overview of the physiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, and comprehensive assessment, as well as the differential diagnosis process and initial management of patients with unilateral pleural effusions. Data sources: A review of the scientific literature was performed on pleural effusions, using Pub Med, Medline, and CINAHL. The case study of a patient with a pleural effusion related to heart failure is used to integrate this knowledge into clinical practice. Conclusions: Pleural effusions are common sequelae of numerous pathophysiological processes. Implications for practice: Knowledge of the underlying physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms enables the NP to obtain an accurate and comprehensive assessment, establishes a differential diagnosis, and provides the timely initial management necessary to optimize patient care outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-512
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep. 2009


  • Case study
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Heart failure
  • Pleural effusion
  • Pulmonary


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