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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Diagnostic accuracy of pleural fluid NT-pro-BNP for pleural effusions of cardiac origin: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Surinder Janda and John Swiston*

Author Affiliations

Division of Respiratory Medicine, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2010, 10:58  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-10-58

Published: 20 November 2010



Several studies have been published in the literature on the diagnostic accuracy of NT-pro-BNP for pleural effusions from heart failure in the last decade. The purpose of our study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis on the diagnostic accuracy of pleural fluid NT-pro-BNP for pleural effusions of cardiac origin.


MEDLINE, EMBASE, PapersFirst, and the Cochrane collaboration and the Cochrane Register of controlled trials were searched. All searches were inclusive as of March 2010. Studies were only included if the absolute number of true-positive, false-negative, true-negative, and false-positive observations were available, and the "reference standards" were described clearly. Two investigators independently reviewed articles and extracted data. Quality was assessed with the Quality Assessment for Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS). The bivariate model for diagnostic meta-analysis was used to obtain a pooled sensitivity and a pooled specificity.


Ten studies (total number of patients 1120) were included in the meta-analysis. The average pleural fluid NT-pro-BNP level in effusions of cardiac origin was 6140 pg/mL. The pooled sensitivity and specificity of all studies combined was 94% (95% CI: 90-97) and 94% (95% CI: 89-97) respectively. The pooled positive likelihood ratio was 15.2 (95% CI: 8.1-28.7) and the pooled negative likelihood ratio was 0.06 (95% CI: 0.03-0.11). The area under the ROC curve was 0.98 (95% CI: 0.96-0.99) and the diagnostic odds ratio was 246 (95% CI: 81-745).


Pleural fluid NT-pro-BNP is a very useful biomarker with high diagnostic accuracy for distinguishing pleural effusions of cardiac origin.