Medical thoracoscopy for undiagnosed pleural effusions: experience from a tertiary care hospital in north India

Indian J Chest Dis Allied Sci. 2011 Jan-Mar;53(1):21-4.


Background and aims: Medical thoracoscopy, also called pleuroscopy, has received renewed interest in the recent past for diagnostic as well as therapeutic uses. In this study, we describe our experience with thoracoscopy for undiagnosed pleural effusions.

Methods: In a retrospective analysis of thoracoscopic procedures we performed between January 2007 and December 2008, yield of thoracoscopic pleural biopsy for achieving a diagnosis in undiagnosed pleural effusions, defined as pleural effusions with adenosine deaminase (ADA) levels less than 70 IU/L and negative pleural fluid cytology for malignancy on three occasions was evaluated. Complications of thoracoscopy were also analysed.

Results: Overall diagnostic yield of thoracoscopic pleural biopsy was 74.3% in patients with undiagnosed pleural effusions. Pleural malignancy was diagnosed in 48.6% of patients. There was only one case of mesothelioma and the rest were due to pleural metastasis. Lung cancer and breast cancer were the most common sites of primary malignancy. Tuberculosis was diagnosed with pleural biopsy in 22.8% of patients. We had low complication rate after thoracoscopy. Only two cases of empyema were observed.

Conclusion: Medical thoracoscopy is a safe procedure and has good diagnostic yield in patients with undiagnosed pleural effusions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion / diagnosis*
  • Pleural Effusion / etiology*
  • Pleural Effusion / therapy
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracoscopy*