Breathing easier: The growing adoption of indwelling pleural catheters


Thoracic Oncology Network

Interventional Procedures Section

The management of recurrent pleural effusions is challenging. Indwelling tunneled pleural catheters (IPCs) have been shown to reduce the need for additional pleural procedures, admissions, and health care costs. These devices have become an important treatment option in patients with malignant pleural effusions (MPE), particularly those with a nonexpandable lung (Feller-Kopman DJ, et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2018;198[7]:839) and when talc pleurodesis is unsuccessful in patients with an expandable lung (Dresler CM, et al. Chest. 2005;127[3]:909).

Over the last 5 years, studies evaluating the use of IPCs in treating nonmalignant pleural disease have proliferated. These studies have included and shown the successful treatment of pleural effusions due to end-stage renal disease, advanced heart failure (Walker SP, et al. Eur Respir J. 2022;59[2]:2101362), and cirrhosis, especially when a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt or liver transplant is not an option (Shojaee S, et al., Chest. 2019;155[3]:546). Compared with MPE, the rate of pleurodesis is generally lower and takes longer when an IPC is used to manage a nonmalignant pleural disease. Infection is the most common complication; most cases can be managed without catheter removal.

With many cited advantages, the IPC is an essential tool in the armamentarium of the chest physician and interventional radiologist. Indwelling pleural catheters have proven applications beyond MPE. When applied in a multidisciplinary fashion involving subspecialists and considering the patient’s goals, using an IPC can help achieve a crucial patient-centric goal in managing a recurrent nonmalignant pleural effusion.

Samiksha Gupta, MD

2nd Year Fellow

Sameer Kaushik Avasarala, MD

Section Member-at-Large

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