|Abstract: ||BACKGROUND: Malignant and paramalignant pleural effusions are important complications of many malignancies. The two main management options debated in the literature are: 1) insertion of an indwelling pleural catheter (IPC) to achieve chronic drainage of the effusion, or 2) hospitalization with tube thoracostomy and subsequent chemical pleurodesis (CP) with talc or doxycycline to prevent fluid reaccumulation. We aimed to describe a large series of patients with malignant pleural effusions managed with an IPC, identify and validate factors identified in the literature as predictors of spontaneous pleurodesis in the IPC group and compare the group managed with IPC to patients managed with CP.
METHODS: We designed a retrospective cohort study comparing patients with malignant and paramalignant pleural effusions managed either with CP between March 1, 2003 and February 28, 2006 or IPC insertion between May 1, 2006 and April 1, 2009. The CP group was identified through the prescription of talc or doxycycline and the IPC group from the IPC clinic database. Data were collected from paper and electronic records and from the Government of Ontario.
RESULTS: We identified 193 consecutive patients with an ECOG performance status of less than 4 (ECOG less than 4 means that the patient is not completely disabled and confined to bed or chair) having undergone IPC insertion and 168 who were managed with CP. None of the variables we tested were significant predictors of spontaneous pleurodesis in the IPC group. Pleural effusion control rates at 6 months were higher in the IPC group than in the CP group (52.7% vs 34.0%, p<0.01) but the rate of freedom from pleural effusion at 180 days and catheter removal at 90 days was not significantly different (25.8% in the IPC group and 34.0% in the CP group p=0.14). Patients in the IPC group had a significantly longer median survival (148 days measured from the date of catheter insertion vs 133 days in the CP group, log-rank p<0.05).
CONCLUSION: We found an intriguing possible survival benefit favouring management of malignant or paramalignant effusions with an IPC. Given possible biases due to the design of this study and uncertain explanatory mechanism, this needs to be confirmed in a randomized controlled trial. Quality of life, an important measure of success for these palliative procedures, should also be measured.|