Pleuritic chest pain is a common presenting symptom and has many causes, which range from life-threatening to benign, self-limited conditions. Pulmonary embolism is the most common potentially life-threatening cause, found in 5 to 20 percent of patients who present to the emergency department with pleuritic pain. Other clinically significant conditions that may cause pleuritic pain include pericarditis, pneumonia, myocardial infarction, and pneumothorax. Patients should be evaluated appropriately for these conditions before an alternative diagnosis is made. History, physical examination, and chest radiography are recommended for all patients with pleuritic chest pain. Electrocardiography is helpful, especially if there is clinical suspicion of myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, or pericarditis. When these other significant causes of pleuritic pain have been excluded, the diagnosis of pleurisy can be made. There are numerous causes of pleurisy, with viral pleurisy among the most common. Other etiologies may be evaluated through additional diagnostic testing in selected patients. Treatment of pleurisy typically consists of pain management with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as specific treatments targeted at the underlying cause.
about 5 years ago