Radiographically guided percutaneous catheter drainage of pleural fluid collections

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1988 Dec;151(6):1113-6. doi: 10.2214/ajr.151.6.1113.


We reviewed the outcome of guided percutaneous catheter drainage of pleural fluid collections in 18 patients over a 5-year period. Catheter positioning was guided by fluoroscopy in 10 (56%) cases, CT in seven (39%), and sonography in one (6%). Included were 16 patients with empyemas and one each with a sterile hematoma and transudate. In nine of the patients, previous surgical chest tube drainage had been unsuccessful. The majority of collections were treated with a 12- or 14-French catheter and closed underwater seal drainage. Twelve (80%) of the 15 patients who had an adequate trial of guided drainage were cured. Propyliodone oil suspension contrast sinography after catheter placement showed two clinically unsuspected bronchopleural fistulas. Although an extensive multilocular pleural collection was a contraindication to percutaneous catheter drainage, the thick fibrous peel of a chronic empyema was not. Drainage of pleural fluid collections with radiographic guidance ensures proper catheter placement and is successful in a high percentage of cases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catheterization* / methods
  • Drainage* / methods
  • Female
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion / diagnosis
  • Pleural Effusion / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pleural Effusion / therapy
  • Punctures
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography