ALAN LEFF, M.D.; PHILIP C. HOPEWELL, M.D.; JOHN COSTELLO, M.D., M.R.C.P. (UK)
Pleural effusion from metastatic malignancy can cause major impairment of respiratory function and eventual death. Although cure is not possible, successful palliative treatment allows months to years of productive life, obviating the need for continuous hospitalization and repeated thoracenteses. Successful palliative treatment requires obliteration of the pleural space. Literature survey indicates that a wide variety of medical agents and surgical methods have been used with variable success. Medical methods include instillation of antineoplastic agents, antimicrobial agents, or colloidal radioisotopes into the pleural space; quinacrine and tetracycline are moderately to highly effective agents, but the toxicity of the former is substantial. Bedside talc poudrage with thoracostomy-tube drainage is a safe and highly effective alternative. Pleurectomy is the definitive method of preventing reaccumulation of pleural fluid that results from metastatic malignancy, even when other methods have failed, but the high morbidity and mortality of the procedures mandate careful patient selection.
LEFF A, HOPEWELL PC, COSTELLO J. Pleural Effusion from Malignancy. Ann Intern Med. ;88:532–537. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-88-4-532
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1978;88(4):532-537.
Hematology/Oncology, Pulmonary/Critical Care.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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