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Pleural smear
Pleural smear


Definition:

The pleural fluid gram stain is a test to diagnose bacterial infections in the lungs.



Alternative Names:

Gram stain of pleural fluid



How the test is performed:

Pleural fluid is found in the space around the lungs. First, a sample of the pleural fluid is drained. This is done using a procedure called thoracentesis .

The health care provider cleanses an area on the chest with germ-killing (antibacterial) soap and numbs it with local pain-killing medicine (anesthetic). A needle placed between the ribs removes a sample of fluid from the chest.

The fluid sample is placed onto a microscope slide and mixed with a violet stain (called a gram stain). A laboratory specialist uses a microscope to look for bacteria on the slide. If bacteria are present, the color, number, and structure of the cells are used to identify the specific organism.



How to prepare for the test:

It is important not to cough, breathe deeply, or move when the fluid sample is being taken. There is no other special preparation for the test.



How the test will feel:

You may feel a stinging sensation when the anesthetic is injected. You may feel some pressure and slight pain in the area when the thoracentesis needle enters the pleural space. You may have a chest x-ray after the test to make sure the test did not affect the lung tissue.



Why the test is performed:

The test is performed when the health care provider suspects an infection of the pleural space, or when a chest x-ray reveals an abnormal collection of pleural fluid.



Normal Values:

Normally, no organisms are present in the pleural fluid.

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:

You may have a bacterial infection of the lining of the lungs (pleura).



What the risks are:

There is a risk of internal bleeding into the lung and collapsed lung (pneumothorax ). Serious complications are extremely rare.




Review Date: 11/12/2007
Reviewed By: Andrew Schriber, M.D., F.C.C.P., Specialist in Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Virtua Memorial Hospital, Mount Holly, New Jersey. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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