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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2002 Feb;21(2):302-5; discussion 305-6.

Long-term follow-up of video-assisted talc pleurodesis in malignant recurrent pleural effusions.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Carlo Forlanini Hospital, Via Portuense 332, 00149, Rome, Italy.



Recurrent pleural effusion is a common condition and often presents a challenge for treatment. The aim of this report is to evaluate the long-term follow-up of thoracoscopic management of malignant recurrent pleural effusions.


From July 1st, 1992 to February 28th, 2001, out of 2311 VATS procedures performed at our Institution, 690 patients (29.85%) underwent videothoracoscopy (VATS) for recurrent pleural effusion. Of these 611 (88.55%) were treated for a malignant pleural effusion. There were 374 male and 237 female, with a mean age of 61.2 years. In all patients VATS was performed under general anaesthesia. The pleural effusion was carefully aspirated; fibrinous adhesions were taken down while dense fibrous adhesions were selectively divided; some limited decortications were also performed. Multiple pleural biopsies were always performed. Pleurodesis was performed with 5 g of sterile purified talc insufflated through a talc atomizer. One chest tube was left in situ for 3-5 days.


Operative mortality was 0.81% (five cases). Postoperative complications occurred in 19 cases (3.1%). Specific histologic diagnosis was obtained in all patients. Follow-up was available for 602 patients (98.5%). After a median follow-up of 64 months (range 5-105 months), talc pleurodesis was successful in controlling recurrence of effusion in 92.7% (558 out of 602) of patients. The success rate did not show any statistically significant difference between patients who underwent postoperative adjuvant therapy and patients who did not. In two patients with failure of talc pleurodesis a redo-VATS was performed.


VATS represents the method of choice for both diagnosis and treatment of malignant recurrent pleural effusions. Talc poudrage is safe and effective in obtaining pleurodesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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