Intrapleural talc for the prevention of recurrent pneumothorax

Chest. 1994 Oct;106(4):1162-5. doi: 10.1378/chest.106.4.1162.


The ipsilateral recurrence rate after the first spontaneous pneumothorax treated with tube thoracostomy is reported to be between 23 percent and 52 percent. The incidence of recurrence after the first recurrence is substantially higher. Chemical pleurodesis has been attempted to decrease the recurrence rate. Tetracycline has been widely utilized, but parenteral tetracycline is no longer available. Therefore, alternative sclerosing agents have been used. Talc has been demonstrated to be effective in preventing recurrences and it has minimal long-term effects. This prospective study was designed to determine the efficacy of talc pleurodesis in patients with recurrent spontaneous pneumothorax. Eighteen patients admitted between May 1985 and March 1993 to the Department of Thoracic Surgery underwent thoracoscopy and were treated by tube thoracostomy with chemical pleurodesis. All the patients had had at least two pneumothoraces and six had had at least six pneumothoraces. Sterile asbestos-free talc, 2g, was aerosolized throughout the pleural surface. One or two chest tubes were inserted, left clamped for 2 h, and unclamped after this time. The tubes were removed when no air had escaped for 24 h. Only one (5.6 percent) patient had recurrence of the pneumothorax, and a second insufflation of talc resulted in no new recurrence after a follow-up of 10 months. The remaining 94.4 percent did not have recurrence of pneumothorax within an observation period of 38.5 +/- 28.1 months. The follow-up was more than 2 years for 66.7 percent with no recurrence and was more than 5 years for 33.3 percent. We conclude from these observations that the insufflation of 2 g of talc into the pleural space is a safe effective treatment for control of recurrent spontaneous pneumothorax.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chest Tubes
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Pleurodesis / methods*
  • Pneumothorax / epidemiology
  • Pneumothorax / therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Talc / administration & dosage*
  • Thoracoscopy
  • Thoracostomy
  • Time Factors


  • Talc