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Difference Between Exudate and Transudate

Exudate vs Transudate

Fluids in the body are essential in the promotion and maintenance of various internal and external processes. Among these are exudates and transudates.

An exudate is a cloudy fluid that seeps out of blood vessels to surrounding tissues as a result of inflammation and injury. It is generally made up of cells with recognizable amounts of protein and other solutes. In the case of blood, plasma proteins, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets may also be present. An exudate may also be pus-like.

There are different types of exudates, namely:

Catarrhal exudate which is present in the nose and throat as evidenced by mucus.

Fibrinous exudate which is seen in cases of strep throat and bacterial pneumonia. It is made up of fibrinogen and fibrin.

Malignant exudate which is based on cancer cells.

Purulent or suppurative exudate which is commonly referred to as pus. It is composed of active and dead neutrophils, fibrinogen, and necrotic parenchymal cells.

Serous exudate which is present in mild inflammation and has little protein content. This type of exudate is more commonly seen from tuberculosis and related types of diseases.

Meanwhile, a transudate is a clear solvent or sometimes a solute that flushes out to extracellular spaces of tissues as a result of imbalanced hydrostatic and osmotic pressures. It has considerably lower protein content compared to an exudate.

As exudates are produced from inflammation and injury, transudates are caused by conditions that are related to increased hydrostatic pressure, such as cirrhosis, nephrotic syndrome, and left ventricular heart failure.

The differences between the two fluids are determined with the use of the Rivalta test. This test is run by filling a test tube with distilled water and acetic acid. A drop of effusion is added to the mixture. Once the drop dissipates, the test is negative indicating a transudate, while if the drop precipitates, the test is positive indicating an exudate.

Other differences between exudates and transudates are determined through specific gravity, albumin content, and cholesterol content.


1.Exudate is cloudy while transudates are clear.

2.Exudate is a result of inflammation and injury while transudate is brought about by imbalanced hydrostatic and osmotic pressure.

3.An exudate has a higher protein content compared to a transudate.

4.Other differences between an exudate and transudate can be determined by specific gravity, albumin content, and cholesterol content findings.

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