Ultrasound-guided small-bore Elecath tube insertion for the rapid sclerotherapy of malignant pleural effusion

W H Hsu, C D Chiang, C Y Chen, P C Kwan, J Y Hsu
Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology 1998, 28 (3): 187-91

BACKGROUND: Traditional pleurodesis for malignant pleural effusion is performed by large-bore chest tube insertion with the instillation of sclerosing agents after the compressed lung re-expansion and pleural fluid drainage of 100-150 ml/day. This study was carried out to evaluate the possibility of rapid sclerotherapy for malignant pleural effusions by insertion of a small-bore Elecath tube (12-French) under ultrasound guidance and intrapleural injection of bleomycin 60 IU.

METHODS: Twenty-six patients, with 28 cytopathologically proven malignant pleural effusions (two patients had bilateral pleural effusions) and receiving the insertion of the Elecath tube for drainage, were included in our series. This rapid and short-term sclerosing method was performed and completed by intrapleural injection of bleomycin when the pleural effusion had been clearly drained by the small-bore Elecath tube and the compressed lung had fully re-expanded on follow-up chest radiographs.

RESULTS: Twenty patients with 22 pleural effusions underwent the intrapleural injection of bleomycin, with the results of pleurodesis being complete response 41% (9/22), partial response 36% (8/22) and failure 23% (5/22). Interestingly, among the 17 successful procedures of pleurodesis (complete response and partial response), 71% (12) procedures could be completed within 2 days (seven within one day and five within 2 days). The remaining unsuccessful procedures carried out on six patients without the injection of bleomycin were due to a non-re-expanded lung (n = 3) and inadequate drainage (n = 3); of these, four patients also received the large-bore chest tube insertion after the removal of the Elecath tube, but the compressed lung still could not re-expand. The complications of the bleomycin injection were fever [77% (17/22)], vomiting [14% (3/22)] and hiccup [5% (1/22)].

CONCLUSION: The method of rapid sclerotherapy for malignant pleural effusions by small-bore Elecath tube is promising, with a success rate achieving 77%, usually within 2 days.

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