Parietal pleurectomy for malignant pleural effusion

Ann Surg Oncol. 1995 Mar;2(2):160-4. doi: 10.1007/BF02303632.


Background: Malignant pleural effusions are seen frequently in clinical practice and are most commonly caused by breast cancer and lung cancer. Standard treatment usually consists of complete drainage of the pleural space via a chest tube and instillation of a pleural irritant to obtain pleural symphysis. In a majority of instances, such treatment effectively controls the pleural space; however, standard treatment fails in some cases.

Methods: Twenty-four patients who did not respond to standard treatment for malignant pleural effusion were subjects for parietal pleurectomy, which was usually performed through an axillary thoracotomy. In several cases, decortication was also necessary. The study population was composed of 18 women and six men. Twelve of the patients had carcinoma of the breast, five carcinoma of the lung, and four carcinoma of the ovary.

Results: Three patients died in the perioperative period to give an operative mortality of 12.5%. The other 21 patients all had satisfactory control of their recurrent malignant effusions. Their survival time ranged from 2 to 30 months (average 10.6).

Conclusions: Parietal pleurectomy is an effective operation for recurrent malignant pleural effusion. However, because of its significant morbidity and mortality, it should be reserved for failures of standard treatment, and patient selection is important.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Drainage
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pleura / surgery*
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / surgery*
  • Recurrence
  • Survival Rate
  • Thoracotomy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome