Pleural fluid smear is a laboratory procedure to check for bacteria, fungi, or abnormal cells in the fluid that may be found in the space around the lungs (called a pleural effusion).
A health care provider examines a sample of pleural fluid under the microscope. If the smear detects bacteria or fungi, other methods may be used to identify those organisms.
The sample is obtained through a procedure called thoracentesis. For information about this test and its risks, see thoracentesis.
The test is performed if you have a pleural effusion and its cause is not known, especially if the health care provider suspects an infection or cancer.
Broaddus VC, Light RW. Pleural effusion. In: Mason RJ, Murray J, Broaddus VC, Nadel J, eds. Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2005:chap 68.
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