Treatment of complicated pleural effusion with intracavitary urokinase in children

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2000 Jun;29(6):438-42. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1099-0496(200006)29:6<438::aid-ppul5>;2-n.


Intrapleural administration of fibrinolytic agents such as urokinase (UK) has been advocated as an alternative method to manage complicated pleural effusion (CPE). Despite the increasing number of empyemas successfully treated with UK in adults, the experience in children is limited to a few cases. We report the results of image-guided catheter drainage (IGCD) with intracavitary instillation of UK in six children with CPE. Urokinase (25,000-100, 000 IU) was diluted in 20 mL of normal saline and instilled into the pleural cavity via a percutaneously placed drainage catheter. After 4 hr, the clamped catheter was released and connected to water-seal suction at a negative pressure of 20 cm H(2)O. UK instillation was repeated daily until no further drainage occurred. During IGCD, repeated radiographic and ultrasound imaging determined the location and amount of any remaining pleural fluid. Mean duration of hospital stay before initiating UK therapy was 4.3 days. Mean duration of catheter drainage before initiating UK therapy was 3.5 days, and the mean total drainage was 86 mL. All patients had an increase in chest tube drainage within 24 hr after the first instillation of UK. The mean net total drainage after UK instillation was 281 mL, most of the drainage being occurring in the first 2 days of treatment. Mean hospital stay following UK treatment was 5.8 days, and the average total duration of hospital stay was 13.8 days. No complications and no adverse events occurred during treatment with UK. Complete resolution of the consequences of the pleural effusion was observed in all patients at follow-up. Our results suggest that IGCD with adjunctive UK therapy is a reliable, simple, and safe approach to treat CPE, and it can reduce the risks associated with thoracotomy and decortication.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Catheterization / methods
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drainage / methods
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Plasminogen Activators / administration & dosage*
  • Plasminogen Activators / pharmacology
  • Plasminogen Activators / therapeutic use
  • Pleural Effusion / drug therapy*
  • Radiography, Interventional / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage*
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / pharmacology
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use


  • Plasminogen Activators
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator