Prospective evaluation of flex-rigid pleuroscopy for indeterminate pleural effusion: accuracy, safety and outcome

Respirology. 2007 Nov;12(6):881-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1843.2007.01144.x.


Objective: This study aimed to assess prospectively the accuracy, safety and outcome of flex-rigid pleuroscopy in the diagnosis of patients with indeterminate pleural effusions.

Methods: Included in the study were all patients with unilateral exudative pleural effusions of unknown aetiology who underwent diagnostic flex-rigid pleuroscopy from July 2003 to June 2005, and were followed until December 2005. The procedure was conducted in the endoscopy suite under local anaesthesia and, where indicated, talc poudrage was carried out at the same time. Clinical data, length of hospitalization, chest tube drainage, outcome, diagnostic accuracy of pleuroscopy and procedure-related adverse events were recorded prospectively.

Results: Fifty-one patients were recruited (20 male and 31 female). Median age was 53 years (range 45-67). Flex-rigid pleuroscopy was 96% accurate and yielded a diagnosis in 49 out of 51 patients. It was safely carried out without need for surgical intervention, blood transfusion or endotracheal intubation. Culture-negative fever was observed in eight patients (16%), and five patients (10%) required additional analgesia for postoperative pain. Duration of chest tube drainage and length of stay for patients who underwent diagnostic pleuroscopy were 1 and 2 days, respectively, while they were both 3 days when talc poudrage was carried out. Success rates with pleuroscopic talc pleurodesis for malignant pleural effusions were 94%, 92% and 89.5% at 3, 6 and 12 months, respectively, and the 30-day mortality was 0%.

Conclusion: Flex-rigid pleuroscopy is a safe procedure with a high diagnostic accuracy and should be considered for the evaluation of indeterminate pleural effusion.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion / surgery*
  • Pleurodesis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Talc / administration & dosage
  • Thoracoscopy* / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Talc