Introduction: Malignant pericardial effusion (MPE) causes cardiac tamponade and an extremely poor outcome unless it is well controlled. The effect of pericardial drainage and the intra-pericardial instillation of bleomycin on the control of MPE was examined in this prospective multi-institutional phase II trial.
Methods: In eligible patients with cytologically defined MPE resulting from non-small cell lung cancer, the pericardial effusion of such cases was continuously drained. After complete drainage, 10 mg of bleomycin was then locally instilled via a catheter. The catheter was then removed if the total amount of drainage was less than 30 ml/day. If the catheter could not be removed within 5 days after treatment, bleomycin was administered one more time.
Results: Among the 22 patients who entered this trial, the tube drainage catheter was successfully removed from 17 patients with one instillation, whereas four required such instillation twice and one required such instillation three times. No severe adverse events were observed, except for constrictive pericarditis, which resulted in the treatment-related death of one patient. The control rate of pericardial effusion was 95% +/- 0.09 (95% confidence interval). No restoration of pericardial effusion was observed during the follow-up period or until death from any cause. Median survival time from the beginning of the protocol was 17.9 weeks.
Conclusions: Pericardial drainage followed by the instillation of bleomycin was found to be a safe and effective method for the management of MPE associated with non-small cell lung cancer.