Malignant pleural effusions are common complications of advanced malignancies and are associated with significant morbidity and reduced survival. Tunnelled indwelling pleural catheters (TIPCs) are implantable devices used for palliation of symptomatic malignant pleural effusions. Although complication rates are overall low, their use in the setting of concurrent chemotherapy has not been carefully reviewed. We report our experience with infectious complications directly attributable to TIPCs (pleural or local soft tissue infections) in those patients receiving concurrent chemotherapy.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of patients who underwent TIPC placement for malignant pleural effusion in a 6-year period from November 2005 to March 2011. We reviewed the incidence of infection in these patients receiving catheter placement and attempted to determine whether chemotherapy was associated with an increased infectious risk.
A total of 262 TIPC procedures, performed in 243 patients, were included in the study. Out of 262, 173 (66%) TIPC were in the chemotherapy group and 89 TIPC were in the nonchemotherapy group. Infections developed in 16 of the 262 TIPC placements (6.1%). The rate of complications in the chemotherapy group was 9 of the 173 TIPCs (5.2%) compared with 7 of the 89 TIPCs (7.9%) in the other group, a difference that was not statistically different (P=0.4).
The overall risk of infection in TIPC is low. Patients undergoing chemotherapy while the TIPC is in place do not seem to have an increased risk of infection, and therefore chemotherapy should not necessarily be viewed as a contraindication to TIPC insertion.