Quality of life and outcomes after nonintubated versus intubated video-thoracoscopic pleurodesis for malignant pleural effusion: comparison by a case-matched study

J Palliat Med. 2014 Jul;17(7):761-8. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2013.0617. Epub 2014 Apr 28.


Background: Malignant pleural effusion can be treated successfully by video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) talc pleurodesis. This procedure can also be performed using local anesthesia on nonintubated patients.

Objectives: To evaluate quality of life and major outcomes after VATS talc pleurodesis performed under local anesthesia in nonintubated patients with malignant pleural effusion.

Design: Retrospective, nonrandomized case-matched comparison (nonintubated versus intubated) pairing the patients by computer according to their clinical features.

Setting/subjects: Since 2002, 231 consecutive patients underwent uniport VATS talc pleurodesis under local anesthesia (nonintubated group). These patients were case matched with 231 homogeneous subjects, selected from a larger group that preferred general anesthesia (intubated group) in the same period.

Measurements: Quality of life (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C30 core questionnaire) and other major outcomes were considered.

Results: Pleurodesis was successful in 198 (85.7%) nonintubated and 193 (83.5%) intubated patients, but the former group showed shorter total operating room time (65.8±7.5 versus 84.9±13.3 minutes, p<0.0001), duration of postoperative pleural fluid leakage (2.5±1.0 versus 4.0±1.5 days, p=0.014), postoperative hospital stay (3.1±2.5 versus 4.9±2.8 days, p=0.011), as well as lower perioperative mortality (0% versus 2.3%, p=0.017), morbidity (5.2% versus 9.0%, p=0.042), and costs (6,090±517 versus 9,660±713€, p=0.015). Quality of life presented a similar evolution between groups, however, the early postoperative improvement in physical function (p<0.05), global health (p<0.05), and dyspnea (p<0.01) was significantly greater in nonintubated patients. Significant improvements in respiratory exchanges, postoperative acute stress markers, and mental confusion were also documented. Effusion-free (p=0.35) and overall (p=0.52) survival was similar between groups.

Conclusion: Nonintubated VATS talc pleurodesis can achieve similar results in pleural effusion to the same operation performed under general anesthesia but with earlier improvement of some quality-of-life domains as well as better mortality, morbidity, hospital stay, and costs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / surgery*
  • Pleurodesis / methods*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome