Medical thoracoscopy in intensive care unit

J Thorac Dis. 2021 Aug;13(8):5232-5241. doi: 10.21037/jtd-2019-ipicu-02.


During the last decade, there has been a tremendous effort towards making procedures less invasive, which could reduce complications, decrease hospital stay and minimize overall health care cost. Medical thoracoscopy (MT) or pleuroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure commonly performed by interventional pulmonologist in United States. It has a favorable safety profile allowing access to the pleural cavity with a thoracoscope via a small chest wall incision to perform diagnostic or therapeutic interventions under direct visualization. MT allows the physician to perform pleural biopsy with high accuracy, drain loculated pleural effusion, guide chest tube placement and perform pleurodesis. As compared to video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), MT is less invasive, does not require single lung ventilation, has a comparable diagnostic yield, and better tolerated in high-risk patients. MT can also be performed at bedside in critically ill patients. Although MT is generally safe, a multi-disciplinary discussion between the interventional pulmonologist, intensive care team, anesthesiologist and thoracic team is necessary to ensure best clinical practice as well as minimize complications for such high-risk patients. The purpose of this article is to review technique, diagnostic and therapeutic indications, as well as contraindications of performing bedside MT in intensive care unit. It aims to review both advantages and limitations of performing MT in intensive care unit.

Keywords: Medical thoracoscopy (MT); intensive care unit (ICU).

Publication types

  • Review