The pathological accumulation of serous fluids in the pleural, peritoneal and pericardial space occurs in a variety of conditions. Since patient management depends on right and timely diagnosis, biochemical analysis of extravascular body fluids is considered a valuable tool in the patient management process. The biochemical evaluation of serous fluids includes the determination of gross appearance, differentiation of transudative from exudative effusions and additional specific biochemical testing to assess the effusion etiology. This article summarized data from the most relevant literature concerning practice with special emphasis on usefulness of biochemical tests used for the investigation of pleural, peritoneal and pericardial effusions. Additionally, preanalytical issues concerning serous fluid analysis were addressed and recommendations concerning acceptable analytical practice in serous fluid analysis were presented.
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