Looking at long-term pleural disease outcomes: The SPOTLight study

Theme Respiratory disease

Workstream Personalised care in pleural disease

Status: This project is ongoing

The space around the lungs (the pleural cavity) can be affected by many different diseases, including: 

  • Pleural effusions, where fluid builds up in the pleural cavity 
  • Pleural cancer – either arising directly from the lining or spreading there from somewhere else  
  • Pleural thickening – potentially resulting in lung restriction  
  • Pneumothorax – air within the pleural cavity, which can cause significant symptoms and serious heart problems 

Most pleural diseases can cause breathlessness, which can be severe and distressing for patients.  

A general lack of research means there are many unanswered questions about how best to diagnose and manage pleural diseases.  

There aren’t any rapid, practical diagnostic tests. Patients often need multiple invasive procedures both to diagnose their condition and manage their symptoms.  


SPOTLight is a long-term observational study which aims to collect data on patients with common types of pleural disease. The project will last at least five years, possibly being extended to 10. 

The main aim of the project is to understand the impact of pleural diseases on patients’ quality of life. It will give a better understanding of approaches to diagnosis, the impact of symptoms on patients and how the way patients are managed impacts their outcomes. 


Every patient who attends Southmead hospital with a pleural condition will be invited to take part. We aim to recruit at least 100 patients per year.  

Participants will give permission to record data about their demographics, symptoms and current health. They will also provide samples of blood, pleural fluid and tissue for future laboratory tests. We will collect quality of life and clinical outcome data at four and 12 months. 

Samples and data will also be available to address a range of other research questions. These questions can become sub-studies of the main SPOTLight project.  

We also intend to improve patient involvement through new disease-specific patient support groups.