A sample of pleural fluid is withdrawn by a needle and sent to the laboratory for testing. The sample pleural fluid is placed on culture plates containing growth media. When colonies of microorganisms have reached sufficient size, a series of biochemical tests can be performed to identify the presence of specific organisms. The test is performed when infection of the pleural space is suspected or when an abnormal collection of pleural fluid is noticed by chest X-ray.
Review Date 11/9/2019
Updated 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, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.