Body Cavity Fluid Specimens

Body cavity fluids are commonly evaluated for the presence of malignant cells from metastatic disease. Body cavity fluids in general are relatively easy to obtain and are relatively difficult to compromise. However, in some instances, due to a large number of inflammatory cells, specimens may degenerated rapidly. In addition, if large amounts of protein are present, the specimen may clot, trapping diagnostic cells within the clot.

Collections of Body Cavity Fluids

Indications: Detection and characterization of malignant cells in body cavity fluids.
Specimen Required: Minimum 10 mL (> 10 mL preferred, 100 mL optimal) of fluid obtained from an appropriately performed paracentesis or thoracentesis.
Supplies: Standard paracentesis or thoracentesis equipment. Clean collection container of appropriate size.
Collection Procedure: Using standard paracentesis or thoracentesis technique, obtain a fluid specimen from the desired body cavity. If necessary, move the patient into multiple positions to suspend cellular material in the fluid. A minimum of 10 mL (> 10 mL preferred, 100 mL optimal) of specimen is desirable for optimal cytologic evaluation. If other studies are required, withdraw a fraction of the specimen and submit it to the appropriate laboratory separately, following their guidelines for specimen collection. Heparin may be added to the specimen to reduce clotting. Place 3 units of heparin per mL capacity of the collection container. Gently agitate to thoroughly mix the specimen and heparin. Submit the specimen along with the completed request form. The specimen should be refrigerated or kept on wet ice until transported.
Reviewed/revised: 3/2012