Recombinant tissue plasminogen activator in the treatment of pleural infections in adults

Respir Med. 2008 Dec;102(12):1694-700. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2008.08.012. Epub 2008 Sep 27.


Background: Intrapleural recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (r-TPA) has been successfully evaluated in pediatric patients with complicated parapneumonic pleural effusion (CPE) and pleural empyema (PE). Yet, there is no data concerning r-TPA in adults with CPE/PE. The aim of our study was to investigate the efficacy and complications of r-TPA in adult patients with CPE/PE.

Methods: Twenty consecutive patients (mean age 50+/-18.9 years) with pleural infection (14 CPE and 6 PE) were included. Chest tube was inserted under guidance of chest ultrasound and/or computed tomography. After failure of pleural fluid drainage, 25mg of r-TPA was administered intrapleurally in a single daily dose. The evaluation was made according to imaging and clinical status.

Results: The mean volume of fluid increased significantly after r-TPA administration (p<0.0001). White blood cells count (WBC) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were significantly improved after r-TPA instillations (both p<0.0001). Significant clinical and imaging improvement was noted in all but one patient after r-TPA administration (overall p<0.0001). Complications observed were mild: pain in 4 (25%) and local bleeding in 3 (15%) patients. The median number of r-TPA instillations was 3 (range 2-5).

Conclusion: Intrapleural instillation of r-TPA at a dose of 25 mg is a well-tolerated and effective treatment in 95% of our adult patients with CPE/PE.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Chest Tubes
  • Drainage
  • Empyema, Pleural / diagnostic imaging
  • Empyema, Pleural / drug therapy*
  • Empyema, Pleural / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion / diagnostic imaging
  • Pleural Effusion / drug therapy*
  • Pleural Effusion / microbiology
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recombinant Proteins / adverse effects
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / adverse effects
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator