A cytology exam is used to look for cancer and precancerous cells. Your doctor may order a cytology examination of pleural fluid if you have signs of fluid buildup in the pleural space, a condition called pleural effusion. The test may also be done if you have signs of lung cancer.
Normal cells are seen.
What abnormal results mean
In an abnormal test, there are cancerous (malignant) cells. This may mean there is a cancerous tumor. This test most often detects:
For information risks related to the procedure to remove a sample of pleural fluid, see: Thoracentesis
Celli BR. Diseases of the diaphragm, chest wall, pleura, and mediastinum. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 100.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.