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Surgical and other invasive approaches to recurrent pleural effusion with malignant etiology.

With an increasing number of cancer survivors, the annual incidence of malignant pleural effusions has been rising in recent decades worldwide. Many patients with various forms of cancer develop malignant pleural effusions at some point in their life. Patients most commonly present with progressive dyspnea. These effusions are refractory and are associated with impaired quality of life for these patients. The main goals of management are evacuation of the pleural fluid and prevention of its re-accumulation. The therapy plan should consider the general health of the patients, their performance status, the presence of trapped lung, and the primary malignancy. However, there is no universally established, standard approach. Surgical options include thoracentesis, chest tube drainage, thoracoscopy followed by chemical and mechanical pleurodesis, Pleur-X catheter drainage, and pleurectomy. Chemical pleurodesis is the most common modality of therapy for patients with recurrent pleural effusion. For example, Talc is the most successful pleurodesis agent with similar equal to that of poudrage or slurry. Pleur-X catheter can reduce hospital stay and adds value to the treatment of patients with trapped lung, who are not appropriate candidates for pleurodesis. Furthermore, a mechanical pleurodesis has been shown to be effective particularly in pleural effusions with lower pH. This article reviews the surgical and other invasive options as well as their technical aspects in the management of recurrent malignant pleural effusions.

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