Blind pleural biopsy using a Tru-cut needle in moderate to large pleural effusion--an experience

Singapore Med J. 1998 May;39(5):196-9.


Background: Pleural biopsy is invaluable for the etiological diagnosis of pleural diseases in the presence of an exudative pleural effusion. Conventionally, pleural biopsy is either performed with the Cope's or the Abrams pleural biopsy needles. A few investigators have used the Tru-cut biopsy needle with or without ultrasound guidance. We report our experience in performing closed pleural biopsy using a Tru-cut needle without ultrasound guidance in moderate to large exudative pleural effusion. We used a perpendicular approach to biopsy the pleura instead of the tangential approach described earlier.

Methods: Closed Tru-cut biopsy was performed in 27 consecutive patients with exudative pleural effusion who volunteered to undergo the procedure. The biopsy specimen was sent for histopathology. Pleural fluid analysis and other relevant investigations required to obtain a specific diagnosis were carried out.

Results: A specific diagnosis of tuberculosis was obtained on histopathology of pleural tissue in 12 out of 16 patients (diagnostic yield 75%) and in 5 out of 7 patients with malignancy (diagnostic yield 71%). Among the other 4 patients, other causes of exudative pleural effusion were detected in 3 and in 1 patient, no specific diagnosis could be made, despite extensive investigation.

Conclusion: Closed pleural biopsy using a Tru-cut needle is effective for the specific diagnosis of exudative pleural effusion. The use of a perpendicular approach to biopsy the pleura does not seem to increase the complication in moderate to large pleural effusion.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Needle / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Pleura / pathology*
  • Pleural Effusion / pathology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pleural / pathology