Objective: As a fast and effective method, cytopathological examination of the pleural fluid is the diagnostic tool of choice in determining the etiology of a spectrum of inflammatory to neoplastic conditions. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of pleural cytology samples examined within a certain time period in determining the presence of malignant cells.
Materials and Methods: Cytological materials of 433 patients with pleural effusion (PE) were retrospectively analyzed. Clinical parameters and cytological diagnosis were recorded in consecutive patients with PE.
Results: Of the 433 cases enrolled in the study, 264 (61%) were male, and 169 (39%) were female. 15.6% (67/433) of the cases were reported as malignant, and 85% were aged >50 years. It was found that the contribution of repeated cytological examination of a material to diagnosis was approximately 3%. The sensitivity and specificity of the cytological method were calculated as 34% and 99%, respectively. Immunocytochemistry was performed in 50 patients who received cell-block techniques, and 42.4% of those were diagnosed as malignant. Molecular tests were also performed in 5 patients.
Conclusion: Although the sensitivity is low, cytological examination of the pleura can be considered a diagnostic tool of vital importance, especially in patients with an advanced-stage disease and poor performance, who can benefit from rapidly evolving and changing treatment options.