Abrams Pleural Biopsy

This page will give you information about a pleural biopsy and drainage. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a pleural biopsy?

A pleural biopsy involves removing a small piece of tissue from the two-layered membrane (pleura) that lines the outside of your lung and the inside of your ribcage. Your doctor may also remove a sample of fluid from the space between the layers (the pleural space) (see figure 1). 

A pleural biopsy is a good method to confirm if you have tuberculosis. The tissue and any fluid that your doctor removes will be examined under a microscope to help explain why there is a problem and to decide on any further treatment.


Pleural Biopsy and Drainage 1

Are there any alternatives to an Abrams pleural biopsy and drainage?

An x-ray or scan can show that you have a problem with the pleura. It may be possible to perform a lung biopsy using an x-ray, CT or ultrasound scan to help decide exactly where to take the samples from.

What does the procedure involve?

Your doctor may offer you a sedative to help you relax. 

An Abrams pleural biopsy and drainage usually takes less than twenty minutes. It involves making a cut and then placing a biopsy instrument through the cut.

Your doctor will use a biopsy instrument to take biopsies and drain any fluid.

What complications can happen?

  • Pain
  • Breathlessness, chest tightness or worsening cough
  • Allergic reaction
  • Pneumothorax
  • Bleeding from a biopsy site
  • Infection in the pleural space

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after a few hours.

A member of the healthcare team will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.

You should be able to go back to work the day after the procedure unless you are told otherwise.


An Abrams pleural biopsy and drainage is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if you have Tuberculosis.


Author: Dr David Baldwin MD FRCP

Illustrations: Hannah Ravenscroft RM

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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