Urokinase in the management of complicated parapneumonic effusions in children

Chest. 1997 Dec;112(6):1579-83. doi: 10.1378/chest.112.6.1579.


Objective: Use of intrapleural fibrinolytic agents in the management of complicated parapneumonic effusions has been widely reported in adults. Such agents promote drainage of fluid through the thoracostomy tube and may obviate surgery. Both streptokinase and urokinase have been used for this purpose, but there are few reports of their use in the children. The objective of this study was to evaluate the role of intrapleural urokinase in the management of complicated parapneumonic effusions in children.

Methods: We reviewed the hospital course of nine children, ages 6 months to 6 years, with complicated parapneumonic effusions who received intrapleural urokinase after failing to respond to I.V. antibiotics and closed-tube thoracostomy drainage. Four subjects had additional thoroscopic adhesiolysis before intrapleural instillation of urokinase; 20,000 IU of diluted urokinase was instilled three times a day via the thoracostomy tube for 3 days.

Results: Eight subjects responded to 3 days of urokinase instillation, with increased thoracostomy tube drainage and clinical resolution of symptoms. The remaining subject responded to a second course of instillation. Two subjects needed oral analgesic for transient chest pain. All subjects tolerated the procedure well. No bleeding, fever, anaphylaxis, or allergic reactions were noted. The coagulation parameters remained unchanged.

Conclusion: Intrapleural instillation of urokinase appears to be a useful and safe adjunct in the management of complicated parapneumonic effusions in children. Its use may be considered in potential decortication patients in an effort to prevent surgery and possibly shorten hospitalization.

MeSH terms

  • Chest Tubes
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Empyema, Pleural / complications
  • Empyema, Pleural / therapy
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Pleural Effusion / complications*
  • Pleural Effusion / therapy*
  • Pleurodesis / methods*
  • Thoracoscopy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage*


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator