CHLBF - Clinical: Cholesterol, Body Fluid

Test Catalog

Test Name

Test ID: CHLBF    
Cholesterol, Body Fluid

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Distinguishing between chylous and nonchylous effusions 


Identifying iatrogenic effusions

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Pleural Fluid:

Quantitation of cholesterol in body fluids is clinically important and relevant in particular to the diagnosis of a cholesterol effusion. Cholesterol effusions (also known as pseudochylothorax or chyliform effusion) are important to differentiate from chylothorax, as their etiologies and therapeutic management strategies differ. Pseudochylous or chyliform effusions accumulate gradually through the breakdown of cellular lipids in long-standing effusions such as rheumatoid pleuritis, tuberculosis, or myxedema, and by definition the effluent contains high concentrations of cholesterol. The fluid may have a milky or opalescent appearance and be similar to that of a chylous effusion, which contains high concentrations of triglycerides in the form of chylomicrons. An elevated cholesterol above 250 mg/dL defines a cholesterol effusion in pleural fluid.


Peritoneal Fluid:

Ascites is the pathologic accumulation of excess fluid in the peritoneal cavity. Cholesterol analysis in peritoneal fluid may be a useful index to separate malignant ascites (>45-48 mg/dL) from cirrhotic ascites. Using a cutoff value of 48 mg/dL, the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive value, and overall diagnostic accuracy for differentiating malignant from nonmalignant ascites were reported as 96.5%, 96.6%, 93.3%, 98.3%, and 96.6%, respectively.(1)


Synovial Fluid:

Normal synovial fluid contains extremely low concentrations of lipids. Abnormalities in synovial fluid lipids may be attributed to cholesterol-rich pseudochylous effusions, which may be associated with chronic rheumatoid arthritis, lipid droplets due to traumatic injury and rarely due to severe chylous effusions associated with systemic lupus erythematosus, filariasis, pancreatitis, and trauma.(1) However, these diseases can usually be differentiated clinically and by gross and microscopic examination; quantification of lipids in synovial fluid only provides supporting information to the clinical picture.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

Not applicable

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Not applicable 

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

This test cannot be performed on viscous fluids.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. McPherson RA, Matthew RP, Henry JB: Cerebrospinal, Synovial, and Serous Body Fluids. In Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. Philadelphia, Saunders Elsevier, 2007, pp 426-454

2. Valdes L, Pose A, Suarez J, et al: Cholesterol: a useful parameter for distinguishing between pleural exudates and transudates. Chest 1991;99:1097-1102

3. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry. Third edition. Edited by CA Burtis, ER Ashwood, WB Saunders, Philadelphia, 1999, pp 1130, 1767-1770

4. Ellefson RD, Elveback L, Weidman W: Plasma lipoproteins of children and youths in Rochester, MN. DHEW Publication No. (NIH) 1978;78-1472