Introduction: To investigate prognostic factors for patient survival after surgical palliation of malignant pleural effusion (MPE).
Method: We reviewed 278 consecutive nonoverseas patients (108 men, median age: 60 years [range 26-89]) undergoing 310 surgical procedures for palliation of MPE over a 72-month period. There were 195 thoracoscopic talc pleurodesis, 39 pleuroperitoneal shunts, 38 pleurodesis by an intercostal drain, 29 pleural biopsies alone, and nine long-term drains. Referring physicians provided survival data. The significance of prognostic factors was examined with the log-rank test (Kaplan-Meier), those significant entered a Cox logistic multivariate regression analysis.
Results: Follow-up was complete until death (following 264 procedures) and for a median 648 days (range 173-2135) for surviving patients. Overall median postoperative survival was 211 days (95% confidence interval: 169-253). Survival was not significantly different for tumor type or method of palliation. In univarate analysis, preoperative leucocytosis, hypoxemia, raised alanine transaminase, body mass index below 18 and hypoalbuminemia were associated with a significantly reduced postoperative survival. In multivariate analysis, leucocytosis (p < 0.0001), hypoxemia (p = 0.014), and hypoalbuminemia (p < 0.0001) maintained significance.
Conclusions: The survival reported demonstrates the necessity of an active approach to palliation of MPE. The identification of prognostic factors will assist the choice of palliative technique. In addition, an appreciation of the influence of selection on survival after surgical palliation of malignant pleural mesothelioma, especially that of unforeseen prognostic factors, is useful when evaluating the results of aggressive treatment such as chemoradiotherapy and radical surgery for these diseases.