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Original Research: PULMONARY PROCEDURES |

Improvements in the 6-Min Walk Test and Spirometry Following Thoracentesis for Symptomatic Pleural Effusions

Ana Maria Cartaxo, RT; Francisco S. Vargas, MD; João Marcos Salge, MD; Bianca F. Marcondes, RT; Eduardo H. Genofre, MD; Leila Antonangelo, MD; Evaldo Marchi, MD, FCCP; Lisete R. Teixeira, MD
Author and Funding Information

From the Pleura Laboratory (Mss Cartaxo and Marcondes and Drs Vargas, Salge, Genofre, Antonangelo, Marchi, and Teixeira), Pulmonary Division–Heart Institute (InCor), University of São Paulo Medical School, São Paulo; and Faculdade de Medicina de Jundiaí (Dr Marchi), Jundiaí, Brazil.

Correspondence to: Lisete R. Teixeira, MD, R: Copacabana 415/184, São Paulo, Brazil 02461-000; e-mail: lisetepneumo@yahoo.com.br


Funding/Support: This work was supported by the State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), and the National Research Council (CNPq), Brazil.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2011 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2011;139(6):1424-1429. doi:10.1378/chest.10-1679
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Background:  Impairment in pulmonary capacity due to pleural effusion compromises daily activity. Removal of fluid improves symptoms, but the impact, especially on exercise capacity, has not been determined.

Methods:  Twenty-five patients with unilateral pleural effusion documented by chest radiograph were included. The 6-min walk test, Borg modified dyspnea score, FVC, and FEV1 were analyzed before and 48 h after the removal of large pleural effusions.

Results:  The mean fluid removed was 1,564 ± 695 mL. After the procedure, values of FVC, FEV1, and 6-min walk distance increased (P < .001), whereas dyspnea decreased (P < .001). Statistical correlations (P < .001) between 6-min walk distance and FVC (r = 0.725) and between 6-min walk distance and FEV1 (r = 0.661) were observed. Correlations also were observed between the deltas (prethoracentesis × postthoracentesis) of the 6-min walk test and the percentage of FVC (r = 0.450) and of FEV1 (r = 0.472) divided by the volume of fluid removed (P < .05).

Conclusion:  In addition to the improvement in lung function after thoracentesis, the benefits of fluid removal are more evident in situations of exertion, allowing better readaptation of patients to routine activities.

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