Send to

Choose Destination
Cancer. 1995 Feb 1;75(3):801-5.

Management of recurrent malignant pleural effusions. The complementary role talc pleurodesis and pleuroperitoneal shunting.

Author information

Royal Brompton National Heart and Lung Hospital, London.



Recurrent pleural effusions in patients with advanced cancer is a common problem that causes significant morbidity and can negatively affect patients' quality of life for their remaining months. Several palliative treatment options are available.


The results of a 10-year experience with 180 patients referred for the surgical palliation of their condition were retrospectively reviewed. Their mean age was 60 years (range, 20-90 years). One hundred and thirty-four patients (74%) had been treated before referral with one or more of the following modalities: repeated needle thoracocentesis (87 patients), tube thoracostomy (24 patients), chemical or biologic pleurodesis (22 patients), and pleurectomy (1 patient). One hundred and seventeen patients demonstrated full lung expansion at thoracoscopy/mini-thoracotomy and underwent talc pleurodesis, whereas the other 63 patients had the "trapped lung syndrome" and required the insertion of a pleuroperitoneal shunt (Denver, Biomedical, Inc).


There were no intraoperative deaths and the early death rate was 5.9% for the talc pleurodesis group and 3.2% for the group that received shunts. The mean hospital stay for the patients receiving talc and shunts was 7.3 days (range, 3-15 days) and 5.9 days (range, 2-12 days), respectively. Follow-up data were available in 60% of the patients and showed that effective palliation was achieved in more than 95% of patients in each group. There were eight patients (12%) with blocked shunts (five requiring replacement or renovation and three requiring removal and open drainage) at 1 week to 4 months after insertion. Two patients (one from each group) required one further episode of treatment by thoracocentesis. The median survival for the talc and shunt groups was 4.9 months (range, 1-36 months) and 5.4 months (range, 1-53 months). Patients with effusions because of secondary breast carcinoma or lymphomas survived the longest.


In patients with malignant pleural effusions in whom pleurodesis is precluded by limited lung expansion, effective palliation can be achieved by pleuro-peritoneal shunt insertion.

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center