Open pleural biopsy

What is an Open Pleural Biopsy?

Open pleural biopsy is a procedure used to diagnose the cause of pleural effusions or other lung disease. It involves taking a tissue sample of the pleura (inner lining of the lungs and chest cavity) for laboratory testing. The tissue sample can reveal the underlying cause of the condition, such as an infection, malignancy, or other disorder.


Prior to the open pleural biopsy procedure, the patient should inform the doctor of any allergies, bleeding tendencies, or prior thoracic surgery. A blood test, chest x-ray, or other imaging studies such as MRI or CT may be necessary to assess the patient’s condition. The patient should also inform the doctor of any medications that are being taken, including aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and any other blood thinners.


The open pleural biopsy procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis. The patient is placed in a supine position, and a local anesthetic is administered. A vertical incision is made in the chest wall, and the pleura is opened. A sample of pleural tissue is taken and examined in the lab for evidence of infection, malignancy, or other disorders. The incision is then closed with a few stitches.

Types of Open Pleural Biopsy

The two most common types of open pleural biopsy are Thoracoscopy and Thoracotomy. Thoracoscopy is performed through a small incision using a thin, fiber-optic tube that is inserted through the chest wall. It is the less invasive of the two procedures, and is typically used to diagnose the cause of an unexplained pleural effusion. Thoracotomy is more invasive than thoracoscopy and is performed by making a larger incision to remove a larger sample of pleural tissue.

Risks and Complications

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with open pleural biopsy. These include infection, bleeding, or a reaction to the anesthesia. The patient may also experience shortness of breath, chest pain, or scarring at the site of the incision. Additionally, there is a slight risk of collapse of the lung due to decreased air production by the lung, which can occur after thoracotomy.

Why Get An Open Pleural Biopsy?

Open pleural biopsy is an important diagnostic tool when it comes to understanding the cause of pleural effusions or other lung diseases. Without this procedure, doctors would struggle to diagnose the exact cause of the condition, which could potentially lead to delayed or improper treatment. In addition, the tissue sample taken can help verify a suspected diagnosis, such as lung cancer or mesothelioma.

When To Get An Open Pleural Biopsy?

Open pleural biopsy should be considered when a patient’s pleural effusions are unexplained or if other diagnostic tests such as chest x-ray or CT scans are inconclusive. In addition, it can also be used to diagnose other lung diseases such as mesothelioma or pulmonary tuberculosis.