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Clinical Investigations: SURGERY |

Use of Small-Bore vs Large-Bore Chest Tubes for Treatment of Malignant Pleural Effusions*

Wendy Parulekar, MD,; Gina Di Primio, MD,; Fred Matzinger, MD,; Carole Dennie, MD,; Gregory Bociek, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group (Dr. Parulekar), Queen’s University, Kingston ON; the Department of Radiology (Drs. Di Primio, Matzinger, and Dennie), University of Ottawa, Ottawa ON; the Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology (Dr. Bociek), University of Nebraska Medical Centre, Omaha, NE.

Correspondence to: Wendy Parulekar, MD, National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group, Queens University, 82 Barrie St, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6, Canada; e-mail: wparulekar@ctg.queensu.ca



Chest. 2001;120(1):19-25. doi:10.1378/chest.120.1.19
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Published online

Study objective: To evaluate the efficacy of small-bore (12 French vanSonnenberg) catheters compared with standard large-bore chest tubes in the drainage and sclerotherapy of malignant pleural effusions.

Design: Retrospective review.

Setting: An academic tertiary care hospital.

Patients: Adult patients with documented neoplasms and malignant pleural effusions, treated between 1986 and 1995.

Intervention: All patients included in the study underwent drainage of malignant pleural effusions either by large-bore chest tube or by ultrasound-guided small-bore catheter. After drainage, pleurodesis was performed.

Results: Outcome as defined by recurrence of effusion was determined by blinded examination of all postpleurodesis chest radiographs. We identified 58 cases of malignant pleural effusion in which small-bore catheters were used and 44 in which large-bore chest tubes were used. The majority of patients had breast (n = 56, 55%) or lung cancer (n = 29, 28%). The median age was 65 years. Fifty-nine patients were actively being treated with chemotherapy at the time of pleurodesis. The following sclerosing agents were used: talc, 27 (26%); tetracycline, 72 (70%); bleomycin, 2 (2%); and interferon, 1 (1%). Actuarial probabilities of recurrence at 6 weeks and 4 months were 45% and 53% for the small tubes vs 45% and 51% for the large tubes. Univariate and multivariate analyses failed to demonstrate that tube size had any influence on the rate of recurrence.

Conclusions: We were unable to detect any major differences in outcomes with the use of either size of chest tube. Our study suggests that small-bore catheters may be effective in the treatment of malignant pleural effusions and deserve further evaluation in prospectively designed trials.

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