When is drainage of malignant pleural effusions indicated?

Updated: Dec 28, 2018
  • Author: Kamran Boka, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Malignant pleural effusions usually signify incurable disease with considerable morbidity and a dismal mean survival of less than one year. For some patients, drainage of large, malignant effusions relieves dyspnea caused by distortion of the diaphragm and chest wall produced by the effusion. Such effusions tend to recur in more than 90% of patients, necessitating repeated thoracentesis, pleurodesis, or placement of indwelling tunneled catheters. [40] Drainage systems using tunneled catheters allow patients to drain their effusions as needed at home.

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