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Cytology exam of pleural fluid
A cytology examination of pleural fluid is a laboratory test to detect cancerous cells in the pleural space, the area that surrounds the lungs.
See: Cytologic evaluation
- Alternative Names
Pleural fluid cytology
- How the test is performed
A sample of fluid from the pleural space is needed. For information on how the sample is obtained, see: Thoracentesis.
The fluid sample is sent to a laboratory where it is examined under the microscope to determine what the cells look like, and whether they are abnormal. "Cytology" refers to the study of cells.
- How to prepare for the test
The laboratory test requires no preparation. For information on how to prepare for removal of the fluid sample, see: Thoracentesis
- How the test will feel
- Why the test is performed
A cytology exam is often used to look for cancers and precancerous changes. Your doctor may order a cytology examination of pleural fluid if you have signs of cancer, or to find the cause of fluid buildup in the pleural space, a condition called pleural effusion.
- Normal Values
Normal cells are seen.
- What abnormal results mean
- What the risks are
There are no risks involved with a cytology exam.
For information risks related to the procedure to remove a sample of pleural fluid, see: Thoracentesis
Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG. Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone; 2004.
Light RW. The undiagnosed pleural effusion. Clin Chest Med. 2006;27:309-319.
Review Date: 9/13/2008
Reviewed By: Benjamin Medoff, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.