Pleural aspiration (drainage of fluid from the pleura)

The pleura makes a fluid that acts as a lubricant. Your specialist doctor may take a sample of this fluid, to see if it contains cancer cells.

The lungs are covered by a lining (membrane) called the pleura. The pleura has an inner and outer layer. The pleura makes a fluid that acts as a lubricant. Sometimes too much of this fluid can build up between the two layers of the pleura. This is called a pleural effusion. Your specialist doctor may take a sample of this fluid to send to the laboratory, to see if it contains cancer cells.

You will usually have an ultrasound scan during the test. Ultrasound uses sound waves to build up a picture of the area. This helps guide the doctor to where the fluid is. Your doctor will give you a local anaesthetic to numb the area first. After this, they pass a needle through your skin into the fluid to take a sample.