Definition

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:

  • Empyema
  • Lung abscess
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis

What the risks are

See: Thoracentesis

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