Talc pleurodesis in malignant pleural effusion: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Gen Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2021 May;69(5):832-842. doi: 10.1007/s11748-020-01549-2. Epub 2020 Nov 22.


Objective: Malignant pleural effusion is a severe and common complication in patients with primary or metastatic malignancies of the pleura. Although talc pleurodesis is widely used for managing malignant pleural effusions, there is still controversy in the literature regarding its superiority compared to other approaches. We conducted this meta-analysis to further investigate its efficacy compared to alternative interventions.

Methods: We systematically reviewed the PubMed, Cochrane, and Scopus databases to identify studies that fulfilled our inclusion criteria. Study quality was evaluated using validated tools and the pooled Risk Ratio (RR) and confidence interval (CI) were calculated. We performed sensitivity analyses based on the meta-analysis method and type of study.

Results: Twenty-four studies were included in the current systematic review meta-analysis. Talc pleurodesis was associated with statistically significant higher successful pleurodesis rates when compared with all controls [RR (95% CI) 1.15 (1.00, 1.31); Pz = 0.04], only chemical controls [RR (95% CI) 1.26 (1.13, 1.40); Pz < 0.0001], and bleomycin [RR (95% CI) 1.22 (1.05, 1.42); Pz = 0.008]. The comparison between talc pleurodesis and controls at the > 1-month follow-up time point favored talc pleurodesis [RR (95% CI): 1.62 (1.15, 2.27); Pz = 0.005]. Finally, talc poudrage was associated with a statistically significant higher successful pleurodesis rate when compared with all controls. Sensitivity analyses verified the robustness of our results.

Conclusion: Talc pleurodesis is an effective MPE management approach presenting borderline statistically significant superiority compared to control methods especially compared to bleomycin as well as when pleurodesis success is evaluated later than 1 month postoperatively.

Keywords: Chemical pleurodesis; Ipcs; Malignant pleural effusions; Meta-analysis; Talc pleurodesis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bleomycin
  • Humans
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant* / therapy
  • Pleurodesis
  • Talc


  • Bleomycin
  • Talc