Diagnostic work-up of pleural effusions

Respiration. 2008;75(1):4-13. doi: 10.1159/000112221. Epub 2008 Jan 9.


A wide range of diseases may be the cause of an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space. Pleural effusion is a major diagnostic problem, since the pleura is an inner cavity with no direct access. The aim of this review is to provide a practical approach to the investigation of the patient presenting with pleural effusion. This should help to accurately diagnose pleural effusion and keep time-consuming, but necessary, invasive investigations to the minimum.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Bronchoscopy / methods
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Pleural Effusion / cytology
  • Pleural Effusion / diagnosis*
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / diagnosis
  • Radiography, Thoracic / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers