AskDefine | Define pleural

Dictionary Definition

pleural adj : of or relating to the pleura or the walls of the thorax; "pleural muscles"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. of, relating to, or affecting the pleura, or the sides of the thoraxO

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

In human anatomy, the pleural cavity is a body cavity containing the lungs; the lungs are surrounded by two serous membranes, the pleurae. The outer pleura (parietal pleura) covers and is attached to the chest wall. The inner pleura (visceral pleura) covers and is attached to the lung and other structures, i.e. blood vessels, bronchi and nerves. Between the two is a thin space known as the pleural space, which normally contains a small amount of pleural fluid.
The parietal pleura is highly sensitive to pain; the visceral pleura is not, because it receives no nerves of general sensation.


Pleural fluid serves several functions. It lubricates the pleural surfaces and allows the pleural layers to slide against each other easily during ventilation. Pleural fluid also provides the surface tension that keeps the lung surface in close apposition with the chest wall. This allows optimal inflation of alveoli during respiration. It also directly transmits pressures from the chest wall to the visceral pleural surface (and hence, the lung). Therefore, movements of the chest wall during breathing are coupled closely to movements of the lungs.

Blood supply

The visceral pleura has a dual blood supply from the bronchial and pulmonary arteries.


It is filled with pleural fluid, a serous fluid produced by the pleura. A normal 70 kg human has approximately 12-15 mL of pleural fluid.
In normal pleurae, most fluid is produced by the parietal circulation (intercostal arteries) via bulk flow and reabsorbed by the lymphatic system. Thus, pleural fluid is continuously produced and reabsorbed. The rate of reabsorption may increase up to 40x before significant amounts of fluid accumulate within the pleural space.
In humans, there is no anatomical connection between the left and right pleural cavities, so in cases of pneumothorax (see below), the other hemithorax will still be able to function normally.


Diseases involving the pleura include:

Additional images


External links

pleural in Catalan: Pleura
pleural in German: Pleurahöhle
pleural in Spanish: Pleura
pleural in Esperanto: Pleŭro
pleural in Basque: Pleura
pleural in French: Plèvre
pleural in Italian: Pleura
pleural in Lithuanian: Krūtinplėvė
pleural in Macedonian: Плевра
pleural in Dutch: Pleurale ruimte
pleural in Polish: Opłucna
pleural in Portuguese: Pleura
pleural in Finnish: Keuhkopussi
pleural in Turkish: Akciğer zarı
pleural in Ukrainian: Плевра
pleural in Chinese: 胸膜
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