Background: Cases of acute respiratory failure reported after talc pleurodesis have raised concerns about its safety. It has been speculated that this pulmonary inflammatory syndrome is secondary to the extrapleural dissemination of the talc particles.
Study objectives: To test the hypothesis that particle size influences extrapleural talc deposition and pleural inflammation after talc slurry pleurodesis.
Design: Thirty rabbits underwent pleurodesis as follows: 10 rabbits received 200 mg/kg of the talc used for human pleurodesis, normal talc (NT); 10 rabbits received 200 mg/kg of talc with particles of larger size, large talc (LT); and 10 rabbits received saline solution. Samples from the ipsilateral lung, chest wall, diaphragm, mediastinal pleura, heart, liver, spleen, and right kidney were obtained at 24 h and 7 days and processed for optic and electron microscopy and energy-dispersive x-ray analysis.
Results: Visceral pleural thickening was greater with NT than with LT, but no differences were observed in the macroscopic score of adhesions. There was more talc in the lungs of the rabbits that received NT than in those that received LT. Talc particles were detected in mediastinum (100%) and pericardium (20%), irrespective of the talc used. Three animals, all receiving NT, had talc particles in the liver.
Conclusions: Our study shows that while both talcs were equally effective in achieving pleurodesis, the intrapleural injection of NT elicits greater pulmonary and systemic talc particle deposition than LT. Moreover, pleural inflammation was greater with NT than with LT.