Definition of Acute Empyema Thoracis

In this article, we will discuss the Definition of Acute Empyema Thoracis. So, let’s get started


It is defined as the collection of pus in the pleural cavity or grossly purulent effusion. The most common cause is bacterial pneumonia. 30-40% hospitalized cases of bacterial pneumonia have an associated pleural effusion. A small percentage of these parapneumonic effusions require drainage for their resolution and are called complicated parapneumonic effusion.

Recently, the term empyema has been broadened to include all these cases of complicated parapneumonic effusion. The characteristic feature of these effusions is exudative pleural effusion which contains significant number of WBCs (but less than empyema)and contains organisms as demonstrated by pathological (Gram stain and/or culture) tests.

(The term empyema was previously used for frank pus in the pleural space)

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