Background: The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness and safety of a chronic indwelling pleural catheter with doxycycline pleurodesis via tube thoracostomy in the treatment of patients with recurrent symptomatic malignant pleural effusions (MPE).
Methods: In this multi-institutional study conducted between March 1994 and February 1997, 144 patients (61 men and 83 women) were randomized in a 2:1 distribution to either an indwelling pleural catheter or doxycycline pleurodesis. Patients receiving the indwelling catheter drained their effusions via vacuum bottles every other day or as needed for relief of dyspnea.
Results: The median hospitalization time was 1.0 day for the catheter group and 6.5 days for the doxycycline group. The degree of symptomatic improvement in dyspnea and the quality of life was comparable in each group. Six of 28 patients who received doxycycline (21%) had a late recurrence of pleural effusion, whereas 12 of 91 patients who had an indwelling catheter (13%) had a late recurrence of their effusions or a blockage of their catheter after the initially successful treatment (P = 0.446). Of the 91 patients sent home with the pleural catheter, 42 (46%) achieved spontaneous pleurodesis at a median of 26.5 days.
Conclusions: A chronic indwelling pleural catheter is an effective treatment for the management of patients with symptomatic, recurrent, malignant pleural effusions. When compared with doxycycline pleurodesis via tube thoracostomy, the pleural catheter requires a shorter hospitalization and can be placed and managed on an outpatient basis.
Copyright 1999 American Cancer Society.