What is a pleural biopsy and drainage?
The pleura is a double membrane covering the lung. The space between these membranes is called a pleural space.
If the patient manifests symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, that cannot be diagnosed with other tests, a pleural biopsy is necessary to determine the cause.The biopsy involves removing a small piece of tissue from the lining of the chest.
If there has been a build-up of fluid between the two pleura or a thickening of the membrane (figure 1), then the surgeon will have to drain the space and allow the lung to inflate, also taking a sample of fluid to determine the cause of the build-up.
The tissue and any fluid that your doctor removes will be examined under a microscope to help explain why the fluid has collected and to decide on any further treatment.
Are there any alternatives to a pleural biopsy and drainage?
An x-ray or scan can show that you have fluid and your doctor can drain any fluid using a needle. It is possible to perform a lung biopsy or a transbronchial biopsy.
What does the procedure involve?
A pleural biopsy and drainage usually takes less than twenty minutes. Your doctor may offer you a sedative to help you relax. A local anaesthetic will be injected to numb the biopsy area.
When the area is anesthetised, the surgeon will make a cut and then placing a biopsy instrument through the cut. Your doctor will use a biopsy instrument to take biopsies and drain any fluid.
What are the risks?
No surgical procedure is risk-free, but the risks depend on your overall health before the procedure. Among the risks associated with the pleural biopsy are:
- Breathlessness, chest tightness or worsening cough
- Allergic reaction
- Bleeding from a biopsy site
- Infection in the pleural space
Your consultant will explain all the risks before undergoing the procedure.
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home after a few hours. A member of the healthcare team will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need. You should be able to go back to work the day after the procedure unless you are told otherwise.