Small chest-tube drainage followed by bleomycin sclerosis for malignant pleural effusions

Obstet Gynecol. 1993 Jun;81(6):993-6.


Objective: To review our experience with bleomycin sclerotherapy as treatment of pleural effusions due to gynecologic malignancies.

Methods: Twenty-one women with histologically documented malignant effusions (16 ovarian carcinoma, three uterine sarcoma, and two cervical cancer) were treated with small flexible chest-tube drainage followed by intrapleural bleomycin sclerotherapy (60 units).

Results: After placement of the chest tube, suction was required for a median of 5 days (range 3-12) before output was low enough (less than 100 mL/24 hours) to instill bleomycin. Among 24 treated effusions, there was a 71% overall response rate, including ten complete responses (42%) and seven partial responses (29%); seven effusions (29%) did not respond to therapy. Six of the seven patients whose effusions did not respond to bleomycin died of disease within 2 months of attempted sclerotherapy. Fever was the most common side effect, occurring in 13 of 21 patients (62%) following instillation of bleomycin. Pain during sclerosis was reported by only two patients.

Conclusions: Bleomycin sclerotherapy after small flexible chest-tube drainage of malignant pleural effusions is an effective technique, with minimal adverse reactions, for controlling effusions that develop in women with gynecologic malignancies.

MeSH terms

  • Bleomycin / therapeutic use*
  • Chest Tubes*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Instillation, Drug
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / complications
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / therapy*
  • Sclerotherapy*
  • Suction
  • Time Factors


  • Bleomycin