In a prospective study pleural biopsy specimens obtained with a Tru-cut needle were compared with those obtained with an Abrams pleural biopsy punch from 36 patients in Zimbabwe judged to have an effusion of at least 1.5 litres; one patient had two biopsies. Both instruments were used on each patient, the Abrams punch being followed by the Tru-cut needle. There were no serious complications. The diagnoses determined by biopsy were: tuberculosis (11); carcinoma (12); chronic inflammation (9); and pleural fibrosis (4); one biopsy showed nothing abnormal. In 23 (62%) patients both biopsy needles produced adequate diagnostic material; in eight the Tru-cut needle alone produced diagnostic material and in six the Abrams punch alone. Thus diagnostic material was obtained in 31 patients from the Tru-cut needle and in 29 from the Abrams punch. The Tru-cut needle was useful and safe for pleural biopsy in this series and appeared to be particularly useful when the pleura was thickened.
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