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Pleural biopsy


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Biopsy is a diagnostic technique wherein a tissue or cell sample is collected from a specific part of the body to be examined under a microscope. In case of pleural biopsy, the sample is taken from the pleura- the membrane surrounding the lungs.


Different types of pleural biopsy

Thoracoscopy- A thin flexible tube known as thoracoscope is inserted via a small incision made in the chest to access the pleural tissue. It could be done under general or local anesthesia

Needle biopsy- As the name suggests a biopsy needle is inserted directly into the pleural membrane guided by imaging techniques like CT scan and ultrasound. The tissue is collected by the needle after giving local anesthesia to the patient.

Open biopsy- A cut is made on the skin – left or right side of the chest and several pieces of tissue are removed for laboratory analysis. The incision is then stitched. Closed biopsy is performed under general anesthesia.


Purpose of pleural biopsy

The primary reason why doctors recommend pleural biopsy is to detect abnormalities in the pleural membrane which include:

  •  Microbial infection
  •  Accumulation of fluid- pleural effusion
  •  Thickening of the pleural membrane

These complications arise in pleural membrane most commonly due to tuberculosis, lung cancer, metastatic or benign cancer, accumulation of blood around lungs, inflammatory diseases etc. Pleural biopsy is thus one of the diagnostic tests for these diseases.


How to prepare for pleural biopsy?

You must inform your doctor about your pre existing medical conditions, general health, the medicines, supplements, etc. you are taking and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Make sure your doctor knows if you are allergic to anesthesia, any other agent or had an allergic response previously.

You do not require fasting for this. Your doctor would ask you to stop taking blood thinners few days before biopsy.


What happens during pleural biopsy?

Your doctor will prepare you for other imaging tests like ultrasonography, chest x ray or CT scan, depending upon the type of biopsy you are undergoing. Your vital parameters like blood pressure, breathing, heart rate etc. will be monitored throughout the procedure. Additional oxygen supply might also be given to you.

Pleural biopsy is usually performed under sitting position with your arms positioned upward to get proper access to your thoracic cavity. The site of puncture or the skin will be cleansed with antiseptic and then the anesthesia (local or general) would be given.

You will feel burning or stinging sensation when the drug is injected. However, you won’t feel pain while undergoing pleural biopsy as your body will be numbed.


What happens after pleural biopsy?

If an incision has been made on your skin then it would be stitched. Your will be retained in the hospital until your vital parameters are stabilized and you are free from probable complications.

Chest X ray would be performed after biopsy.

Your doctor would advise you to avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting until the incision heals completely.

Report to your doctor immediately if you experience fever, chest pain, breathing trouble or observe blood while coughing.


Risks of pleural biopsy

Your doctor would take every possible precaution to avert complications. However, there are small chances of puncture in the lung wall which can lead to collapse of the lungs. Infection and bleeding in the lung could also be some of the risks associated with pleural biopsy.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: October 11, 2014