Diagnostic value of medical thoracoscopy in malignant pleural effusion

BMC Pulm Med. 2017 Aug 4;17(1):109. doi: 10.1186/s12890-017-0451-1.


Background: Medical thoracoscopy has been shown to be an efficacious procedure in diagnosing unexplained exudative pleural effusions with excellent safety. This study aimed to assess the diagnostic significance of thoracoscopy in the management of patients with malignant pleural effusion (MPE).

Methods: Consecutive patients with malignant pleural effusion were retrospectively reviewed, and their demographic, radiographic, thoracoscopic and histological data were collected.

Results: Between July 2005 and June 2014, 342 of 833 patients undergoing thoracoscopy were finally confirmed to suffer from MPE. The top three frequent causes of MPE were metastatic carcinoma (79.5%), malignant mesothelioma (10.2%), and lymphoma (2.9%). Among metastatic malignancies, the most common cancer was lung cancer (85.2%), followed by breast cancer (4.4%), ovarian cancer (2.2%), pancreatic cancer (1.8%), etc. No serious adverse events associated with thoracoscopy were recorded.

Conclusions: Medical thoracoscopy is a valuable and safe tool in diagnosing malignant pleural effusion with minimal complication rates.

Keywords: Diagnosis; Malignant pleural effusion; Pleural biopsy; Sensitivity and specificity; Thoracoscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma / secondary
  • China
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lymphoma / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / diagnosis*
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / diagnosis*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / secondary
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Thoracoscopy*