Use of a tunnelled pleural catheter for the management of refractory hepatic hydrothorax: a new therapeutic option

Respiration. 2010;80(4):348-52. doi: 10.1159/000282493. Epub 2010 Feb 9.


Refractory hepatic hydrothorax poses a challenging therapeutic dilemma, as treatment options are limited. Herein, we describe the case of a 48-year-old lady with advanced cirrhosis and recurrent transudative pleural effusion despite a sodium-restricted diet, optimal diuretic therapy and transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt. Given the patient's platelet and coagulation disorders, thoracoscopic pleurodesis was deemed unsafe. Instead, a tunneled pleural catheter (PleurX®) was inserted under local anesthesia. Pleural drainage was achieved at the time of catheter placement and subsequently according to the patient's symptoms. Symptomatic improvement and gradual decrease of drainage volumes were noted. Six months following placement of PleurX, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus cellulitis at the insertion site prompted catheter removal. No pleural effusion was seen on chest X-ray at that time. Subsequent follow-up revealed spontaneous pleurodesis, as no recurrence of pleural effusion was seen over a 6-month follow-up period. Very few data are available with regard to the use of indwelling pleural catheters for benign transudative pleural effusion, and more specifically hepatic hydrothorax. Herein, we present this novel potential indication of the indwelling pleural catheter and illustrate the successful clinical outcome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization*
  • Catheters, Indwelling
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrothorax / diagnostic imaging
  • Hydrothorax / etiology
  • Hydrothorax / therapy*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography