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Chest. 2006 Feb;129(2):362-8.

Single-center experience with 250 tunnelled pleural catheter insertions for malignant pleural effusion.

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Division of Respiratory Medicine, University of Calgary, Health Sciences Center, 3330 Hospital Dr NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 4N1 Canada.



Malignant pleural effusions (MPEs) are a common cause of dyspnea in patients with advanced cancer. Tunnelled pleural catheters (TPCs) can be used in patients with this condition, but the published experience with them is limited.


To describe the use of TPCs in the management of MPE in a large group of patients in a clinical setting.


Retrospective analysis of 250 sequential TPC insertions in patients with MPEs in a single center.


Two hundred fifty TPC procedures for MPE were performed in 223 patients (19 contralateral procedures and 8 repeat ipsilateral procedures) during a 3-year period. Symptom control was complete following 97 procedures (38.8%), was partial in 125 procedures (50%), and was absent in 9 procedures (3.6%); in addition, there were 10 failed TPC insertions (4.0%) and 9 TPC insertions (3.6%) without assessment of symptoms at the 2-week follow-up visit. Spontaneous pleurodesis occurred following 103 of the 240 successful TPC procedures (42.9%) and was more frequent when < or = 20% of the hemithorax contained fluid at the 2-week follow-up visit (57.2% vs 25.3%, respectively; p < 0.001). Catheters stayed in place for a median duration of 56 days. Following successful TPC placement, no further ipsilateral pleural procedures were required in 90.1% of cases. The overall median survival time following TPC insertion was 144 days. Complication rates were low and compared favorably with those seen with other treatment options.


TPC placement is an effective method of palliation for MPE that allows outpatient management and low complication rates. The insertion of a TPC should be considered as a first-line treatment option in the management of patients with MPE.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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