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Open pleural biopsy

  • Definition
    • An open pleural biopsy is a procedure to remove and examine the tissue that lines the inside of the chest. This tissue is called the pleura.

  • Alternative Names
    • Biopsy - open pleura

  • How the Test is Performed
    • An open pleural biopsy is done in the hospital using general anesthesia, which means you are asleep and pain-free. A tube will be placed through your mouth down your throat to help you breathe.

      The surgery is done in the following way:

      • After cleaning the skin, the surgeon makes a small cut in the left or right side of the chest.
      • The ribs are gently separated.
      • Tissue is taken from inside the chest and sent to a laboratory for examination.
      • After surgery, the wound is closed with stitches.
      • Your surgeon may decide to leave a small plastic tube in your chest to prevent air and fluid from building up
  • How to Prepare for the Test
    • You should tell the health care provider if you are pregnant, allergic to any medicines, or if you have a bleeding problem. Be sure to tell your provider about all the medicines you take, including herbs, supplements, and those bought without a prescription.

      Follow your surgeon's instructions for not eating or drinking before the procedure.

  • How the Test will Feel
    • When you wake up after the procedure, you will feel drowsy for several hours.

      There will be some tenderness and pain where the surgical cut is located. Most surgeons inject a long-acting local anesthetic at the surgical cut site so that you will have very little pain afterwards.

      You may have a sore throat from the breathing tube. You can ease the pain by eating ice chips.

  • Why the Test is Performed
    • This procedure is used when the surgeon needs a larger piece of tissue than can be removed with a pleural needle biopsy. The test is most often done to rule out mesothelioma.

      It is also done when there is fluid in the chest cavity, or when a direct view of the pleura and the lungs is needed.

      This procedure may also be done to examine a metastatic pleural tumor.

  • Normal Results
    • The pleura will be normal.

  • What Abnormal Results Mean
    • Abnormal findings may be due to:

  • Risks
    • There is a slight chance of:

      • Air leak
      • Excess blood loss
      • Infection
      • Injury to the lung
      • Pneumothorax
  • References
    • Putnam JB Jr. Lung, chest wall, pleura, and mediastinum. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 58.