The pleura are thin tissue membranes which overlie the lungs and the inside of the chest wall. They normally contain a small volume of fluid which allows the layers to move freely against each other during respiration. Over fifty diseases can affect the pleura, including, commonly, cancer and infection. Disease usually causes inflammation which can lead to pain, pleural thickening or excess pleural fluid build-up, the latter of which will usually lead to breathlessness for patients. In other circumstances, such as during trauma to the chest, air can become trapped in the pleural space which again affects breathing.
Pleural disease is now recognised as a distinct sub-specialty of respiratory medicine with an increasing number of dedicated pleural teams being found in hospitals. It is common and probably affects around 200,000 patients per year in the UK. In recent years there have been great advances in the diagnosis and management of pleural conditions with innovations such as medical thoracoscopy, indwelling pleural catheters, portable thoracic ultrasound and intrapleural fibrinolytics.
What do we do?
The University of Bristol’s ARU has the largest dedicated pleural research team in the UK. We specialise in the design, set-up and delivery of high quality clinical trials, especially multi-centre randomised controlled trials. We work closely with other university colleagues, those in other research centres and those at North Bristol NHS Trust, where the unit is based.
We have a particular interest in studies relating to the management of malignant pleural effusions, pneumothorax and pleural infection, and have a record of studies relating to therapeutic interventions, novel therapies, advanced diagnostics and imaging.
For more specific details about our team or our study involvement, please refer to the links on the left. For more information about pleural disease we would recommend the British Thoracic Society 2010 Guidelines