A thin layer of pleural fluid normally remains in the pleural space. An accumulation of pleural fluid may occur with some disorders. A sample of this fluid can be obtained by thoracentesis (aspira-tion of pleural fluid for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes). It is important to position the patient as shown in Chart 21-9.
A needle biopsy of the pleura may be performed at the same time. Studies of pleural fluid include Gram’s stain culture and sensitivity, acid-fast staining and culture, differential cell count, cytology, pH, specific gravity, total protein, and lactic dehydro-genase.
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