Pleurodesis practice for malignant pleural effusions in five English-speaking countries: survey of pulmonologists

Chest. 2003 Dec;124(6):2229-38. doi: 10.1378/chest.124.6.2229.


Background: Pleurodesis is important in the management of malignant pleural effusions, but no consensus exists on the optimal agent or methods of pleurodesis. How pleurodesis is practiced worldwide has not been studied.

Objectives: To identify variations in the clinical practice of pleurodesis in major English-speaking countries, and to quantify the experience of pulmonologists on the effectiveness and adverse effects of different pleurodesis agents worldwide.

Methods: Eight hundred fifty-nine pulmonologists practicing in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand participated in a Web-based survey.

Results: The respondents collectively perform > 8,300 pleurodesis annually. Talc was the preferred agent by most respondents (slurry, 56%; poudrage, 12%), followed by tetracycline derivatives (26%), and bleomycin (7%). Differences were seen in pleurodesis practice patterns among practitioners among and within the surveyed countries. Physicians' overall satisfaction with the available pleurodesis agents was modest (5.0 out of 8), and the reported success rate averaged only 66%. Talc (both poudrage and slurry) was perceived as significantly more effective, but was associated with significantly more pain, nausea, and fever (p < 0.05). Respiratory failure occurred more commonly with talc poudrage than with other agents (p < 0.05), and had been observed by 70% and 54% of physicians who used talc poudrage and slurry, respectively.

Conclusions: Significant variations exist in how pleurodesis is performed worldwide. Pleurodesis agents currently available are perceived as suboptimal. Talc poudrage and slurry were perceived to be more effective, but were associated with more complications, including respiratory failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Australia
  • Doxycycline / adverse effects
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / therapy*
  • Pleurodesis / adverse effects
  • Pleurodesis / methods*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Pulmonary Medicine
  • Talc / adverse effects
  • Talc / therapeutic use
  • Tetracycline / adverse effects
  • Tetracycline / therapeutic use
  • United Kingdom
  • United States


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Talc
  • Tetracycline
  • Doxycycline