Management of Septated Malignant Pleural Effusions

Curr Pulmonol Rep. 2018;7(1):1-5. doi: 10.1007/s13665-018-0194-3. Epub 2018 Jan 20.


Purpose of review: We review recent studies of patients with septated malignant pleural effusions, to understand what the clinical implications for patients are and what evidence-based methods should be used to manage these effusions.

Recent findings: Fibrinolytics improve effusion size assessed radiologically in patients with a chest drain inserted for septated malignant pleural effusions but this does not translate into an improvement in breathlessness relief or pleurodesis success. Fibrinolytics have also been used in patients with septated effusions associated with indwelling pleural catheters, but dyspnoea relief has not been assessed in this population. Patients with septated effusions or extensive adhesions appear to have a worse prognosis.

Summary: Patients with septated malignant pleural effusions have a poor prognosis and do not gain clinical benefit from fibrinolytics via chest drain. The role of fibrinolytics for septated effusions associated with indwelling pleural catheters requires further study.

Keywords: Cancer; Fibrinolytic; Pleural effusion; Septation.

Publication types

  • Review