Clinical efficacy and safety of thoracoscopic talc pleurodesis in malignant pleural effusions

Chest. 2005 Sep;128(3):1431-5. doi: 10.1378/chest.128.3.1431.


Study objectives: In patients with disseminated neoplastic disease, recurrent pleural effusion is frequently observed. The purpose of this study was to determine the long-term efficacy and safety of pleurodesis by thoracoscopic talc poudrage (TTP) in malignant pleural effusions (MPEs).

Methods: We report a consecutive series of 102 patients (45 women, 57 men; 20 to 83 years of age) who underwent medical thoracoscopy and TTP for recurrent MPE between 1999 and 2001. Thoracoscopy was performed utilizing local anesthesia and IV sedation (medical thoracoscopy). For pleurodesis, an average of 8 g of sterile talc powder was used. One hundred eighty-day follow-up was completed for all patients, and outcome measures included time to recurrence of the effusion and survival. Efficacy was judged by clinical examination, chest radiograph, and/or thoracic ultrasound examination. Procedure-related complications were documented.

Results: The most common primary neoplasms were lung cancer (n = 48), breast cancer (n = 16), and malignant pleural mesothelioma (n = 10). Twenty-eight patients had other types of tumors, including renal cell carcinoma, ovarian carcinoma, GI tumors, prostate, malignant lymphoma, and unknown primary cancer. At the end of the primary observation period of 180 days, 38 of 46 surviving patients (82.6%) had a successful pleurodesis. Type of primary neoplasm had no significant influence on success rate. The 30-day mortality rate was 16.7% (n = 17). Survival curves after 180 days showed significant differences, with best survival in mesothelioma and shortest life expectancy in lung cancer (p = 0.005). Adverse effects included empyema in one case and malignant invasion of the scar. No episode of talc-induced ARDS was observed.

Conclusion: Thoracoscopic talc pleurodesis is a safe and effective method to stop recurrent MPEs. Lasting pleural symphysis is obtained.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Irritants / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / drug therapy*
  • Pleurodesis / methods*
  • Recurrence
  • Survival Analysis
  • Talc / administration & dosage*
  • Thoracoscopy / methods*


  • Irritants
  • Talc