Small bore catheter drainage and sclerotherapy for malignant pleural effusions

L A Parker, G C Charnock, D J Delany
Cancer 1989 September 15, 64 (6): 1218-21
The accumulation of large amounts of fluid in the pleural space is a common sequela of disseminated carcinomatosis. Traditional management has included therapeutic thoracentesis or the placement of a large bore chest tube for drainage with the subsequent installation of a sclerosing agent in an attempt to achieve pleural symphysis. An evaluation of all patients treated in this manner during a 4-year period was undertaken to assess the degree of success obtained with a large bore standard chest tube versus a small pigtail catheter. A study group consisting of 20 patients with a total of 24 pleural effusions was treated with drainage and sclerotherapy. In this group, eight of 13 effusions were adequately treated with pigtail catheter drainage and sclerotherapy, compared with four of 11 effusions adequately treated with standard chest tube drainage and sclerotherapy. Although the numbers are small, it appears that pigtail catheter drainage and sclerosis is at least as successful as the more traditional drainage with the standard chest tube.

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