Comparison of modified Borg scale and visual analog scale dyspnea scores in predicting re-intervention after drainage of malignant pleural effusion

Support Care Cancer. 2013 Nov;21(11):3109-16. doi: 10.1007/s00520-013-1895-3. Epub 2013 Jul 11.


Background: Dyspnea is the most common symptom in patients with malignant pleural effusion (MPE). Treatment decisions are primarily based on the perception of dyspnea severity.

Aims: To study dyspnea perception following therapeutic thoracentesis using the visual analog scale (VAS) dyspnea score and modified Borg scale (MBS). To investigate whether patient reported outcome (PRO) measures can predict pleural re-interventions.

Patients and methods: Consecutive patients presenting with symptomatic MPE and planned for therapeutic thoracentesis were asked to complete MBS and VAS dyspnea scores (both at rest and during exercise) daily for 14 consecutive days. Physicians, unaware of the results of these PRO measures, decided on the necessity of a re-intervention, according to routine care. PRO measures were analyzed and correlated with performed re-interventions and the volume of removed fluid.

Results: Forty-nine out of 64 consecutive patients returned the diaries. Twenty-eight patients (57 %) had a re-intervention within 30 days. Patients who required a re-intervention reported significantly higher MBS than patients who did not. The extent of increase in MBS during exercise was related to the need for re-intervention. Regarding the MBS during exercise, median time to maximal relief was 2 days. Re-intervention was required sooner when larger volumes were drained.

Conclusion: Patient reported outcomes are useful tools to assess treatment effect of therapeutic thoracentesis. Median time to maximal relief is 2 days. MBS rather than VAS dyspnea score appears to be more prognostic for repeat pleural drainage within 30 days.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology*
  • Dyspnea / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Paracentesis / methods
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / complications
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / physiopathology
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / therapy*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Recurrence
  • Retreatment / methods
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Visual Analog Scale*