Intrapleural instillation of fibrinolytic agents for treatment of pleural empyema

Joel B Cochran, Fred W Tecklenburg, Ronald B Turner
Pediatric Critical Care Medicine 2003, 4 (1): 39-43

OBJECTIVE: To describe the use of intrapleural instillation of fibrinolytic agents as adjunctive therapy for children with complicated pleural effusions and empyema.

DESIGN: Retrospective chart review.

SETTING: Tertiary care children's hospital in an academic medical center.

PATIENTS: Nineteen consecutive patients (median age, 36 months; range, 9 months to 13 yrs) with complicated pleural effusion or empyema by clinical, radiographic, and laboratory criteria who failed to have adequate drainage of the fluid collection by tube thoracostomy.

INTERVENTIONS: Patients who remained symptomatic with fever or respiratory distress and who had pleural fluid that could not be drained by tube thoracostomy were treated by intrapleural instillation of either urokinase (13 patients) or streptokinase (six patients) 8-72 hrs after chest tube insertion.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Fibrinolytic therapy increased the volume of chest tube drainage in 15 (79%) of 19 patients. Fourteen of the 19 patients were successfully managed without referral for surgical drainage. No significant adverse events or side effects were noted.

CONCLUSION: Intrapleural instillation of fibrinolytic agents appears to be an effective and less invasive alternative to surgical drainage for children who have complicated pleural effusions or empyemas that do not drain adequately with tube thoracostomy alone.

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