Massive pleural effusion in a young woman

Paolo Ghiringhelli, Roberto Cattaneo, Angelo Tiso, Claudia Cesaro



Pleural effusion is a clinical manifestation shared by several underlying pathologies. The differential diagnosis is based on the clinical history, the physical examination, the analysis of the pleural fluid, and the laboratory data (mainly blood tests). There are cases, such as the patient described, where TC is not enough, and unusual imaging techniques are required for the study of pleural effusion, i.e. magnetic resonance cholangiography, cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

This case analyses a 42-year-old female patient who arrived with progressive dyspnoea, chest pain, cough, a history of alcohol abuse, and a recent episode of acute pancreatitis. The physical examination revealed signs of right-sided pleural effusion. These features, together with laboratory data, made it possible to pose the diagnosis of pancreaticopleural fistula, to treat it, and to obtain a complete healing in a two-month period.

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