Cytopathology of Pleural, Peritoneal, and Pericardial Fluids

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Abstract

Cytologic examination of spontaneously occurring serous effusions is widely performed, especially with a view to detecting cancer cells in the fluid. The finding of cancer cells in such a fluid is of the gravest prognostic significance, denoting that the patient has cancer that is not only advanced but which is almost certainly incurable. Apart from cancer cells, examination of a serous fluid may reveal inflammatory changes, usually nonspecific, but which may be specific for certain diseases. Cytologic examination of serous fluids may also reveal infection with bacteria, fungi, parasites, or viruses. It may also reveal the presence of a fistulous connection with a serous cavity.