Background: Talc has been generally accepted to be the most effective sclerosant for chemical pleurodesis, although the optimal route of administration remains unclear.
Methods: We designed a prospective, randomized study to compare video-assisted thoracoscopic talc insufflation with bedside talc slurry in the treatment of malignant pleural effusion. From September 1993 to November 1995, 57 patients were recruited and randomized to either video-assisted thoracoscopic talc insufflation under general anesthesia (n = 28) or talc slurry by the bedside (n = 29). Patients with poor general condition (Karnofsky score less than 30%), poor pulmonary function (forced expiratory volume in 1 second less than 0.5 L), or trapped lungs were excluded from this study. Five grams of purified talc was used for either video-assisted thoracoscopic talc insufflation or talc slurry.
Results: There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups of patients with respect to age, sex ratio, chest drainage duration, postprocedural hospital stay, parenteral narcotics requirement, complications, or procedure failure (ie, recurrence).
Conclusions: Video-assisted thoracoscopic talc insufflation has not been shown to be a superior approach compared with talc slurry in our study. Because the former demands more resources, we advocate that talc slurry should be considered as the procedure of choice in the treatment of symptomatic malignant pleural effusion in patients who do not have trapped lungs.