Objective: To determine the efficacy and safety of talc slurry for pleurodesis.
Participants: All patients who received talc slurry via tube thoracostomy at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center from March 1991 to April 1992.
Results: Fifty-eight patients received talc slurry in 75 procedures; five patients had 2 unilateral procedures and 12 had bilateral procedures. Fifty-two patients had malignant pleural effusions with the most common cell types being breast (23 of 52, 44 percent), lung (4 of 52, 8 percent), ovarian (4 of 52, 8 percent), and endometrial (3 of 52, 6 percent). Four patients had benign conditions. The mean duration of follow-up was 171 days (range, 2 to 450 days). Success, defined as the absence of pleural fluid reaccumulation, was evaluable in 47 of 73 (64 percent) procedures. Pleurodesis was successful in 38 of 47 (81 percent). Adverse effects associated with pleurodesis included fever (46 of 73, 63 percent), empyema (4 of 73, 5 percent), atrial arrhythmia (3 of 73, 4 percent), hypotension (3 of 73, 4 percent), and hypoxemic respiratory failure (3 of 73, 4 percent). There were no deaths attributable to the procedure.
Conclusions: Talc slurry instilled through a chest tube is an effective bedside method of pleurodesis. Fever occurs frequently. Respiratory failure is a rare but potentially serious complication that deserves further investigation.