Background: Sterile talc is currently the agent of choice for pleurodesis. Its success rate is excellent, and talc is generally well tolerated. However, a recent experience with fulminant pneumonitis following talc pleurodesis prompted a review of our experience.
Methods: A retrospective review of patients undergoing talc pleurodesis at our institution between December 1993 and December 1997 was performed, documenting respiratory and other complications. Statistical analysis was performed using Student's t test and Pearson correlations.
Results: Seventy-eight patients received 89 talc pleurodesis procedures. Respiratory complications or death occurred in 33%; 9% of patients developed adult respiratory distress syndrome. There was no statistical difference in outcomes between patient groups, methods of application, or talc dosages utilized.
Conclusions: This series revealed a significantly higher rate of serious complications than that reported in the current literature, without implicating a clear reason for these outcomes. Our data raise questions about the safety of talc pleurodesis.