JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Pleurectomy/decortication for palliation in malignant pleural mesothelioma: results of surgery.

OBJECTIVE: Surgery can only offer palliation in an attempt to slow the progression of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). We want to assess the effectiveness and safety of pleurectomy/decortication in establishing a tissue diagnosis, and controlling pleural fluid accumulation and symptoms in patients with MPM.

METHODS: We reviewed our pleurectomy results in 100 patients with MPM over a 19 year period. Major symptoms were chest pain, cough and dyspnea, and radiographic findings included pleural mass, pleural fluid and constriction of involved hemithorax.

RESULTS: Approximately two thirds of the patients underwent surgery prior to tissue diagnosis. Eighty-nine patients had stage I and stage II disease, 8 and 81%, respectively. The patients underwent subtotal (44%) or total pleurectomy (56%). The surgical mortality rate was 1% (1/100) and the morbidity rate was 22%. Morbidity included prolonged air leak (n = 12), empyema (n = 6), reaccumulation of pleural fluid (n = 2) and wound infection (n = 2). Palliative results included dyspnea and cough relief in all patients, chest relief in 60 (85%) and pleural fluid control in 52 (96%) patients. Median survival was 17 months in MPM patients.

CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that pleurectomy/decortication safely provides both tissue diagnosis and effective of pleural effusion and symptoms and therefore excellent palliation in patients with MPM.

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