Effectiveness of tunneled pleural catheter placement in patients with malignant pleural effusions

Sangita Sudharshan, Victor A. Ferraris, Timothy Mullett, Chandrashekhar Ramaiah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Pleural effusions (PE) occur frequently among patients with various types of advanced malignancies, resulting in remarkably decreased quality of life. Treatment of malignant PE includes placement of a chest tube with subsequent placement of a tunneled pleural catheter. We reviewed our experience with tunneled pleural catheter use to assess outcomes and resource utilization of this intervention. A retrospective study of consecutive patients (n=163, including 41 outpatients) who were treated between July 2001 and April 2008 with tunneled pleural catheters was performed to evaluate operative and discharge outcomes. The average age of the patients was 59.32 years (range: 24 to 89). Lung cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer were common primary diseases in this patient population. The mean hospital stay after tunneled pleural catheter placement was 3.19 days (range: 0 to 56), with 41 patients treated as outpatients. Thirteen inpatient deaths were related to the patients' primary diseases, but no deaths were due to drain placement itself. Eight patients (4.91%) required reoperation to replace a nonfunctioning drain or to add an additional drain, and six patients underwent a second procedure to place a contralateral drain. One hundred twenty-six patients (77.30%) were discharged home following the procedure and hospital stay. Fifty-five people achieved spontaneous pleurodesis. Tunneled pleural catheter placement is a safe and effective approach to the treatment of PE. The advantages of tunneled pleural catheter placement include symptomatic relief and improved quality of life. This method allows patients to spend time at home with their family and avoid prolonged hospitalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-42
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Angiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Tunneled pleural catheter
  • malignant pleural effusions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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