Study objectives: We describe a series of patients with symptomatic, refractory malignant pleural effusion (MPE) and underlying trapped lung syndrome who underwent placement of a small-bore, flexible indwelling pleural catheter for home drainage of recurrent MPE.
Design: The medical records of 11 consecutive patients who underwent pleural catheter placement for MPE with trapped lung syndrome were reviewed retrospectively.
Setting: Patients were evaluated and followed up in the Pulmonary Outpatient Practice at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Patients: Nine men and two women with underlying malignancies including lung cancer, lymphoma, and mesothelioma underwent pleural catheter placement.
Interventions: Thirteen pleural catheters were placed in 11 patients, all under local anesthesia. Patients received detailed instructions for drainage and catheter care. They were reevaluated weekly for the first 2 weeks, and then as clinically indicated. Patients typically performed pleural drainage at home up to 1,000 mL two or three times weekly.
Measurements and results: All patients reported symptomatic benefit, defined as improved dyspnea and exercise tolerance, except for one patient. In 10 patients, the pleural catheters remained in place until death, for 15 to 234 days. The mean length of placement was 115 days. One patient required revision after catheter occlusion. Other complications included catheter infection, localized skin breakdown, and possible cellulitis.
Conclusion: We have described a series of patients with MPE and trapped lung syndrome for whom placement of a permanent pleural catheter provided a convenient, effective alternative to the procedures currently in use. Our patients reported good symptomatic relief following catheter placement with few major complications.