Article Abstract

Management of malignant pleural effusions in patients with trapped lung with indwelling pleural catheter: how to do it

Authors: Luca Bertolaccini, Andrea Viti, Alberto Terzi


Malignant pleural effusion (MPE) is a well-known sign of an end-stage cancer and affects the quality of life of these patients. The primary goal in the management of MPE should be a soothing treatment with the palliation of symptoms. Pleurodesis may be accomplished with chemical irritation of the pleura and represents the commonest treatment of MPE with palliative intent. Pleurodesis may be achieved through a chest drainage placement or a video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) procedure. The uniportal VATS talc poudrage is considered the gold standard of care for fit patients, while talc slurry (through the chest drainage) is reserved to those patients with important comorbidities not tolerating a surgical procedure. However, if the lung remains trapped after fluid evacuation or if the daily fluid output after chest tube insertion is major than 300 mL/day, the talc pleurodesis is likely to fail. Therefore, in those patients who are unfit for pleurodesis (low performance status or comorbidity), or with a recurrent MPE after chemical pleurodesis, or with trapped lung, the outpatient intermittent drainage through a subcutaneous tunnelled indwelling pleural catheter (IPC) effectively relieved dyspnoea without complications. The treatment of recurrent MPE with an IPC reduces symptoms and improves quality of life in patients with end-stage cancers. The complication rate is low; therefore, the IPC can be easily managed at home. The IPC is safe, easy to place and effective for the palliation of MPE. It could help the clinical need of the thoracic surgeons and the other members of a multidisciplinary cancer team.