Study objectives: Recurrent chylothorax as a complication of lymphoma has had unsatisfactory outcomes. Serial thoracentesis, tube thoracostomy, and pleurodesis via chest tube have been ineffective and compromise the nutritional and immune status of the patient. Medical thoracoscopic talc pleurodesis has been safe and effective in the treatment of some other varieties of recurrent pleural effusions. Our objective was to investigate the safety and efficacy of medical thoracoscopic talc pleurodesis in the palliation of chylothorax related to lymphoma.
Design: This is a report of 24 hemithoraces treated in 19 consecutive patients with lymphoma-related chylothorax, failing chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The average patient age was 55 years.
Interventions: Medical thoracoscopy was performed under local anesthesia and conscious sedation in a bronchoscopy suite. Sedation included midazolam (mean dose, 6 mg; range, 2-14 mg) with either meperidine (mean dose, 94 mg; range 25-140 mg), or morphine (mean dose, 18 mg; range 4-40 mg). Pleurodesis was performed with insufflation of sterile asbestos-free talc, (4-8 g). After pleurodesis, chest tubes were placed, with the mean duration of chest tube placement being 4 days, range 3 to 10 days.
Results: One patient died a few days after the procedure due to causes related to the primary disease process. Follow-up was for at least 90 days following the procedure. Patients were assessed at 30, 60, and 90 days following the procedure. At each of these endpoints, all patients remaining alive were without recurrence of pleural effusions, which was confirmed by chest radiography. Eight patients in the series died of the effects of their malignancy during the 90-day evaluation interval. Complications included medication reactions in two patients (8.3%) and ARDS in one patient (4.1%).
Conclusion: Many patients with lymphoma-related chylothorax are refractory to chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. In this group, medical thoracoscopic talc pleurodesis has an acceptable complication rate and a 100% success rate in the prevention of recurrence of pleural effusions at 30, 60, and 90 days following the procedure.