What is a pleural fluid analysis?
Pleural fluid analysis is a series of tests used to determine the etiology of pleural effusion. A pleural fluid is a liquid that exists between the pleura's layers. The pleura is a two-layer membrane that borders the chest cavity and surrounds the lungs.
As you breathe, pleural fluid keeps the pleura wet and prevents membrane friction. The pleural space is the region that holds pleural fluid. The pleural space normally contains a minor quantity of pleural fluid.
In some cases, too much fluid accumulates in the pleural space. Pleural effusion is the medical term for this.
What is the use of this test?
To determine the etiology of pleural effusion, a pleural fluid study is performed. Pleural effusions are classified into two types:
Your doctor may use Light's criteria to assist in determining which form of pleural effusion you have. Light's criterion is a formula that correlates some of your pleural fluid analysis findings to the results of your blood tests.
It is critical to determine the type of pleural effusion you have so that you can receive the right therapy.
What is the need for a pleural fluid analysis?
You might need this test if you have symptoms of pleural effusion. These include:
Some patients might not have symptoms of pleural effusion straight away. But, if you've had a chest x-ray for another reason and it shows evidence of pleural effusion, your provider may request this test.
What happens during a pleural fluid analysis?
Your doctor will have to drain some pleural fluid from the pleural space. This is done by a surgery known as thoracentesis. The procedure can be performed in either a doctor's office or a hospital.
Throughout the procedure following will happen:
- You will be asked to change your clothes and wear a robe.
- You will be seated on a hospital bed or chair, your arms on a padded table. This positions your body correctly for the process.
- Your physician will use an antiseptic solution to clean a region on your back.
- Your provider will inject a numbing drug into your skin to keep you comfortable during the treatment.
- After the area is fully numb, your physician will place a needle between your ribs in your back. The needle will be inserted into the pleural area. Your provider may use ultrasound imaging to determine the optimum location to inject the needle.
- As the needle is inserted, you may feel some pressure.
- The needle will be withdrawn once enough fluid has been extracted, and the injection area will be wrapped.
How to prepare for the test?
A thoracentesis or blood test requires no specific preparation. But your doctor may prescribe a chest x-ray before the treatment.
Is there any danger in the test?
Thoracentesis is a relatively risk-free operation. The risks are typically modest, although they might include discomfort and bleeding at the surgery site.
Severe consequences are rare, although they might include a collapsed lung or pulmonary edema, which occurs when too much pleural fluid is evacuated. Following the treatment, your provider may request a chest x-ray to check for problems.
Important information to know about pleural fluid analysis?
Your pleural fluid findings may be compared to other tests, such as glucose and albumin, a protein produced by the liver. The comparisons might be used in conjunction with Light's criteria to assist in determining the type of pleural effusion you have.