Pleural effusion in long-term hemodialysis patients

Bakirci T., Sasak G., ÖZTÜRK S., Akcay S., Sezer S., Haberal M.

TRANSPLANTATION PROCEEDINGS, vol.39, no.4, pp.889-891, 2007 (SCI-Expanded) identifier


As a consequence of the expanded use of long-term hemodialysis and extended life spans, complications of chronic renal failure are encountered with an increased frequency among uremic patients. Such patients may develop many thoracic and extrathoracic problems - most frequently uremic pleuritis and pericarditis, uremic pneumonia, infection, and metastatic pulmonary calcification. We retrospectively analyzed the medical records of 257 patients who had received long-term hemodialysis between 1990 and 2006 to better understand the incidence, causes, and clinical features of pleural effusions in this population. The incidence of pleural effusion in hospitalized patients receiving long-term hemodialysis was 20.2% (n = 52; mean age, 55.83 +/- 16.56 years; male-to-female ratio, approximately 3:2). Pleural effusion resulted from hypervolemia in 61.5% and was bilateral in 68.8% of patients. Unilateral effusion was present in 25 of 52 (48%) patients. The most frequent causes of unilateral effusion were hypervolemia (n = 9) and parapneumonic effusion (n = 5). Thoracenteses were performed in 14 of the 52 patients in the study group. Of thoracenteses performed, 64.3% of the patients had transudative pleural effusion and 35.7% had exudative effusion. Transudative pleural effusion resulted from hypervolemia in 66.7% and heart failure in 22.2%. Of the patients with transudative effusion, 85.7% were bilateral. The most frequent cause of exudative pleural effusion was uremic pleuritis, which occurred in 40% of the patients. The most common symptom was dyspnea, which occurred in 53.8% of patients. In conclusion, pleural effusions are common in patients receiving chronic hemodialysis. Thoracentesis may be performed in patients with unilateral pleural effusion. Since hypervolemia was the most common cause of pleural effusion, this complication should not be considered an obstacle in renal transplant recipients.