African Journal of Respiratory Medicine
The pleural cavity: Guardians of lung health and function

Opinion - (2023) Volume 18, Issue 3

Dominic Garfoot*
*Correspondence: Dominic Garfoot, Department of Pulmonology, University of Guadalajara, Mexico, Email:

Received: 30-May-2023, Manuscript No. ajrm-23-107216; Editor assigned: 01-Jun-2023, Pre QC No. ajrm-23-107216(PQ); Reviewed: 15-Jun-2023, QC No. ajrm-23-107216; Revised: 20-Jun-2023, Manuscript No. ajrm-23-107216(R); Published: 27-Jun-2023, DOI: 10.54931/1747-5597.23.18.85

Department of Pulmonology, University of Guadalajara, Mexico


The pleural cavity is an essential anatomical space that surrounds the lungs, playing a critical role in protecting and facilitating their function. Comprised of two layers of serous membrane, the pleura, this cavity ensures the smooth movement of the lungs during respiration while also providing a protective barrier against infection and mechanical stress. In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of the pleural cavity, uncovering its anatomy, function, and contributions to lung health.


The pleural cavity consists of two layers of serous membrane, namely the visceral and parietal pleura. The visceral pleura closely adheres to the lung tissue, while the parietal pleura lines the inner surface of the chest wall, diaphragm, and mediastinum. The space between these layers, the pleural cavity, is filled with a thin layer of pleural fluid, which acts as a lubricant, reducing friction during respiration.

The pleural fluid within the pleural cavity plays a vital role in facilitating the movement of the lungs during respiration. By reducing friction between the two layers of pleura, it allows the lungs to glide effortlessly against the chest wall and diaphragm with each breath. This lubrication is essential for efficient and painless respiration.

The pleural cavity helps maintain the pressure balance necessary for proper lung expansion. The slight negative pressure within the pleural cavity relative to the atmospheric pressure keeps the lungs in an expanded state, preventing lung collapse. This pressure differential allows the lungs to fill with air during inhalation and passively deflate during exhalation, facilitating efficient gas exchange.

The pleural cavity provides a protective shield for the delicate lung tissue. The layers of pleura help isolate the lungs from potential infections originating from the chest cavity. Additionally, the pleural cavity stabilizes the lungs within the thoracic cavity, preventing excessive movement and ensuring optimal respiratory function.

Pleural effusion refers to an abnormal accumulation of fluid within the pleural cavity. This condition can occur due to various factors, including infection, inflammation, malignancy, heart failure, or liver disease. Pleural effusion can impair lung function, leading to breathing difficulties, chest pain, and respiratory distress. Diagnosis and appropriate management of pleural effusion are crucial for restoring normal lung function.

The pleural cavity serves as a diagnostic pathway for various respiratory conditions. Pleural biopsy, a procedure involving the sampling of pleural tissue, aids in diagnosing infections, malignancies, and inflammatory disorders. Additionally, thoracentesis, the aspiration of fluid from the pleural cavity, can help identify the cause of pleural effusion and guide appropriate treatment.

Pleurodesis is a therapeutic procedure performed to manage recurrent pleural effusion or pneumothorax. It involves the induction of pleural adhesion, usually through the introduction of a sclerosing agent into the pleural cavity. Pleurodesis helps prevent the recurrence of effusion or collapse, restoring the integrity and function of the pleural cavity.


The pleural cavity, with its serous membranes and pleural fluid, serves as a critical component of the respiratory system, contributing to lung health and function. From lubricating lung movements to protecting against infections and maintaining pressure balance, the pleural cavity plays a vital role in ensuring efficient respiration. Understanding the anatomy and function of the pleural cavity enhances our appreciation for the intricate design and crucial contributions it makes to our overall well-being.

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