Click here to return to the LMHS Home Page

 

Print-Friendly
Bookmarks

Pleural fluid culture

Culture - pleural fluid

 

Pleural fluid culture is a test that examines a sample of fluid that has collected in the pleural space to see if you have an infection or understand the cause of buildup of fluid in this space. The pleural space is the area between the lining of the outside of the lungs (pleura) and the wall of the chest. When fluid collects in the pleural space, the condition is called pleural effusion.

How the Test is Performed

 

A procedure called thoracentesis is used to get a sample of pleural fluid. The sample is sent to a laboratory and examined under a microscope for signs of infection. The sample is also placed in a special dish (culture). It is then watched to see if bacteria or any other germs grow.

 

How to Prepare for the Test

 

No special preparation is needed before the test. A chest x-ray will be performed before and after the test.

DO NOT cough, breathe deeply, or move during the test to avoid injury to the lung.

 

How the Test will Feel

 

For thoracentesis, you sit on the edge of a chair or bed with your head and arms resting on a table. The health care provider cleans the skin around the insertion site. Numbing medicine (anesthetic) is injected into the skin.

A needle is placed through the skin and muscles of the chest wall into the pleural space. As fluid drains into a collection bottle, you may cough a bit. This is because your lung re-expands to fill the space where fluid had been. This sensation lasts for a few hours after the test.

During the test, tell your provider if you have sharp chest pain or shortness of breath.

 

Why the Test is Performed

 

Your provider may order this test if you have signs of a certain infection or if a chest x-ray or CT scan of the chest shows you have too much fluid in the space around the lungs.

 

Normal Results

 

A normal result means no bacteria or fungi were seen in the test sample.

A normal value is no growth of any bacteria. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

 

What Abnormal Results Mean

 

Abnormal results may indicate:

  • Empyema (collection of pus in the pleural space)
  • Lung abscess (collection of pus in a lung)
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis

 

Risks

 

Risks of thoracentesis are:

  • Collapsed lung (pneumothorax)
  • Excessive loss of blood
  • Fluid re-accumulation
  • Infection
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Respiratory distress
  • Serious complications are uncommon

 

 

References

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Thoracentesis - diagnostic. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2013:1068-1070.

Septimus EJ. Pleural effusion and empyema. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 70.

BACK TO TOPText only

 
  • Pleural culture

    Pleural culture

    illustration

    • Pleural culture

      Pleural culture

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

          Tests for Pleural fluid culture

           
           

          Review Date: 12/10/2015

          Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
          adam.com

           
           
           

           

           

          A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.