Indwelling pleural catheters for recurrent pleural effusions: A useful clinical tool with serious implications

  • Samuel Copeland
  • Audra Schwalk
  • Salkowan Suchartlikitwong
  • Shengping Yang
  • Gilbert Berdine
Keywords: Recurrent pleural effusion, indwelling pleural catheter, mortality, survival, pleurodesis


Background: Indwelling pleural catheters (IPC) have been used increasingly in patients with recurrent pleural effusions. However, data about mortality after IPC use are limited. Objectives: We sought to determine the natural history following IPC placement in Lubbock, Texas, in terms of life expectancy and pleurodesis rates in patients with both malignant and benign effusions. Methods: A retrospective review of patients who had IPC insertion from March 2014 through December 2016 at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, was performed. Patients 18 years and older who had IPC placement for recurrent pleural effusions were included. The duration of IPC placement, the type of pleural effusion, the volume of fluid, pleurodesis, complications, and mortality after IPC placement were retrieved from electronic medical records. Results: There were 45 patients included in the study; 20 patients (44%) were male, and 25 patients (56%) were female. The mean age was 63.5 years old. There were 33 patients with malignant pleural effusion and 12 patients with benign pleural effusion. No patients with malignant effusion were known to be alive at the time of mortality calculation, whereas two patients with benign effusion were known to be alive. Median survival was 468 days in the benign effusion group and 115 days in the malignant effusion group. The 30-day mortality was not significantly different between the two groups (malignant 34.5% vs. benign 25.0%). However, 1-year mortality was significantly higher in the malignant effusion group (89.7%) than in the benign effusion group (41.7%) (p < 0.005). Conclusion: The use of indwelling pleural catheters in Lubbock, Texas, has comparable results to published studies. These catheters should be considered as a bridge to a long-term treatment rather than a definitive therapy.


Download data is not yet available.


Wrightson, John M., Davies, Helen E., Lee, Y.C. Gary.

(2012). Pleural Effusion, Empyema, and Pneumothorax. In

S.G. Spiro, G.A. Silvestri, A. Agustí. Clinical respiratory

medicine. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders.

Cohen M, Sahn SA. Resolution of pleural effusions. Chest


Chalhoub M, Harris K, Castellano M, et al. The use of the

PleurX catheter in the management of non-malignant pleural

effusions. Chron Respir Dis 2011;8:185–191.

Clive AO, Jones HE, Bhatnagar R, et al. Interventions for

the management of malignant pleural effusions: a network

meta-analysis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016;


Patil M, Dhillon SS, Attwood K, et al. Management of benign

pleural effusions using indwelling pleural catheters: a systematic

review and meta-analysis. Chest 2017;151:626–635.

Peikert T, Colby TV, Midthun DE, et al. Fibrosing mediastinitis:

clinical presentation, therapeutic outcomes, and adaptive

immune response. Medicine (Baltimore) 2011;90:412–423.

Gilbert CR, Lee HJ, Skalski JH, et al. The use of indwelling

tunneled pleural catheters for recurrent pleural effusions in

patients with hematologic malignancies: a multicenter study.

Chest 2015;148:752–758.

Ost DE, Jimenez CA, Lei X, et al. Quality-adjusted survival

following treatment of malignant pleural effusions with

indwelling pleural catheters. Chest 2014;145:1347–1356.

Lee YC, Fysh ET. Indwelling pleural catheter: changing

the paradigm of malignant effusion management. J Thorac

Oncol 2011;6:655–657.

Bhatnagar R, Maskell NA. Indwelling pleural catheters.

Respiration 2014;88:74–85.

Bhatnagar R, Corcoran JP, Fabien Maldonado F, et al.

Advanced medical interventions in pleural disease. Eur

Respir Rev 2016;25:199–213. Eur Respir Rev 2016;25:360.

Herlihy JP, Loyalka P, Gnananandh J, et al. PleurX catheter

for the management of refractory pleural effusions in congestive

heart failure. Tex Heart Inst J 2009;36:38–43.

How to Cite
Copeland, S., Schwalk, A., Suchartlikitwong, S., Yang, S., & Berdine, G. (2018). Indwelling pleural catheters for recurrent pleural effusions: A useful clinical tool with serious implications. The Southwest Respiratory and Critical Care Chronicles, 6(25), 8-13.