Purpose: Pleurodesis can relieve dyspnea in patients with malignant pleural effusions. We retrospectively compared the success rate of talc slurry instillation pleurodesis with thoracoscopic talc powder insufflation pleurodesis.
Patients and methods: From 2000 to 2005, two methods of talc pleurodesis were performed in 71 patients with symptomatic massive malignant pleural effusions: a) through the pleural drain (24F), 50 ml of a slurry containing 4-5 g of Luzenac talc in saline with 20 ml 1% lidocaine were instilled. The drain was clamped for 1 h; b) insufflation of 3-5 g of talc powder was performed via videothoracoscope using local anaesthesia. The drain was left in the pleural space until the daily secretion of pleural fluid was under 100 ml. Pleurodesis was considered successful when the patient was without dyspnea and did not need pleural fluid evacuation and the pleural fluid did not re-accumulate in the 1st month after pleurodesis.
Results: The success rate of talc slurry pleurodesis was 78%(38/49). Excluding 8 patients who died in the first month, the success rate increased to 93% (38/41). Thoracoscopic pleurodesis was successful in 77% (17/22) of patients. Excluding one patient who died in the first month, the success rate increased to 81%(17/21) (intergroup difference non significant). Complications were observed in 41% (20/49). vs. 73% (16/22) of patients in the talc slurry group and thoracoscopic group, respectively (p=0.013).
Conclusion: Pleurodesis with instillation of talc slurry and with insufflation of talc during thoracoscopy were equally successful in patients with massive malignant pleural effusions. However, thoracoscopic pleurodesis is accompanied with considerably more complications, rather as a result of the thoracoscopy itself and not as a consequence of pleurodesis.