Aims: Talc pleurodesis using talc slurry via chest tube is a primary option in malignant pleural effusion, since life expectancy is short and surgical decortication is hazardous. Incomplete lung expansion after fluid evacuation, and/or excessive fluid secretion predicts failure of pleurodesis. A mini-invasive alternative was investigated.
Methods: Between March 2004 and September 2005, 51 consecutive patients with malignant pleural effusion, and clinically considered unsuitable for talc pleurodesis, received an indwelling pleural catheter (Denver PleurX). In 47, implantation was done bedside using local anaesthesia. There were 24 men and 27 women, median age 63 (range 36-85) years, receiving 39 right side, 10 left side, and 2 bilateral catheters. There were 19 non-small cell lung cancer cases, 7 mesothelioma, and 25 with other malignancy. Chemotherapy was being given to 18 patients and was not interrupted.
Results: Discharge to home was possible in 71% (36 of 71 patients) on the following day. At 2 years follow-up in September 2007, one patient was alive. Mean survival was 3 months (range 5 days to 37+months) for all patients, with best median survivals of 5.5-6 months in breast and ovarian cancer. Catheter was removed or replaced in 15% (8 of 51 patients) due to infection, air leak, or blockage. One patient requested decortication for excessive fluid secretion. None required surgery or died due to catheter-related complications. Pleural fusion with subsequent catheter removal was achieved in 21% (11 of 51 patients).
Conclusions: An indwelling pleural catheter is a safe alternative for patients with malignant pleural effusion unsuitable for talc pleurodesis. In some, pleural fusion may be achieved.