Left pleural effusion and fever of unknown origin-A clue to thoracic arterial pathology

Ami Schattner*, Abraham Klepfish

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The subset of patients who have both fever of unknown origin (FUO) and a nondiagnostic pleural effusion on presentation has not been previously investigated. A retrospective search of all patients classified as 'classic' FUO one week after admission to a department of general internal medicine identified 71 patients over 15 years. Seven were found to have associated pleural effusion(s) on admission (9.8%). In three patients thoracic large vessel pathology was diagnosed (chronic aortic dissection, giant cell arteritis and Takayasu arteritis). In these patients, the pleural effusion was predominantly left-sided, small to moderate in amount and nondiagnostic on thoracentesis. The effusions resolved spontaneously or with appropriate treatment. Thus, in patients with prolonged fever and systemic symptoms, a 'bland' left-sided pleural effusion may be a diagnostic clue to underlying inflammation of large thoracic arteries. Pleural irritation due to its anatomical proximity to the large arteries on the left side of the thorax may underlie the pathogenesis. Recognition of this sign may lead to a more timely diagnosis of occult thoracic large vessel pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1084-1087
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Aortic dissection
  • Fever of unknown origin
  • Giant cell arteritis
  • Pleural effusion
  • Takayasu arteritis


Dive into the research topics of 'Left pleural effusion and fever of unknown origin-A clue to thoracic arterial pathology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this