Annali Italiani di Chirurgia. 2007 Sep-Oct;78(5):389-91. [Link]

Cusumano G, Margaritora S, Porziella V, Meacci E, Piraino A, Vita ML, Tessitore A, Congedo MT, Filotico M, Cafarotti S, Granone P.

Thoracic Surgery Unit, Catholic University, Rome, Italy.


Malignant pleural effusion is a frequent condition with important prognostic repercussions on duration and quality of life. The neoplasms that more frequently determine pleural effusion are lung and breast cancer and pleural mesothelioma. Lymphomas, tumours of the genitourinary tract and gastrointestinal tract as a group account for a further 25%. Surgical treatment has palliative purposes and finalized to reduction symptoms and to improve quality of life. More frequent clinical presentation is a massive pleural efusion associated to dyspnoea and cough. Pleural aspiration is the first choice treatment but the recurrence rate equals to 100% within 1 month. Repeated pleural aspirations are indicated in those patients that have lower expectation of life. The recurrence risk can be reduced with chemical pleurodesis that allows the adhesion between pleural surfaces. Pleurodesis can be realized by the instillation of several substances by the tube of drainage (slurry) or during thoracoscopy (poudrage). Video Assisted Thoracoscopy (VATS) is a safe and well tolerated technique, a complication rate is lower than 0.5%, VATS can be used to obtain diagnosis and to treat patients with malignant pleural effusion and better expectation of life.