Background: Malignant pleural effusions (MPEs) remain a common problem, with 40,000 new cases in the United Kingdom each year and up to 250,000 in the United States. Traditional management of MPE usually involves an inpatient stay with placement of a chest drain, followed by the instillation of a pleural sclerosing agent such as talc, which aims to minimise further fluid build-up. Despite a good success rate in studies, this approach can be expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient for patients. More recently, an alternative method has become available in the form of indwelling pleural catheters (IPCs), which can be inserted and managed in an outpatient setting. It is currently unknown whether combining talc pleurodesis with IPCs will provide improved pleural symphysis rates over those of IPCs alone.
Methods/design: IPC-PLUS is a patient-blind, multicentre randomised controlled trial (RCT) comparing the combination of talc with an IPC to the use of an IPC alone for inducing pleurodesis in MPEs. The primary outcome is successful pleurodesis at five weeks post-randomisation. This study will recruit 154 patients, with an interim analysis for efficacy after 100 patients, and aims to help to define the future gold standard for outpatient management of patients with symptomatic MPEs.
Discussion: IPC-PLUS is the first RCT to examine the practicality and utility of talc administered via an IPC. The study remains in active recruitment and has the potential to significantly alter how patients requiring pleurodesis for MPE are approached in the future.
Trial registration: This trial was registered with Current Controlled Trials (identifier: ISRCTN73255764 ) on 23 August 2012.