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Pleural fluid culture

Pleural fluid culture is a test that looks at a sample of fluid from the space around the lungs to see if you have an infection.

Alternative Names

Culture - pleural fluid

How the test is performed

A sample of pleural fluid is needed. For information on how this is taken, see: Thoracentesis

The sample is sent to a laboratory and examined under a microscope for signs of infection.

How the test will feel

For information on how the test will feel, see: Thoracentesis

Why the test is performed

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

Normal Values

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

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results may indicate:

What the risks are

See: Thoracentesis

References

Karcher DS. McPherson RA. Cerebrospinal, synovial, serous body fluids, and alternative specimens. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds.Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 29.

Updated: 12/6/2011

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; 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. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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