Usefulness of Medical Thoracoscopy in the Management of Pleural Effusion Caused by Chronic Renal Failure

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Although pleural effusion (PE) can be caused by several pathologies like congestive heart failure, infections, malignancies, and pulmonary embolism, it is also a common finding in chronic kidney disease (CKD). Diagnostic thoracentesis is of limited value in the differential diagnosis, and the role of more invasive investigations like medical thoracoscopy (MT) is still unclear.


To evaluate the usefulness of MT in unexplained PE in CKD.

Materials and Methods:

In the electronic database of our Institution, we retrospectively searched for patients with CKD who underwent MT for unexplained PE between January 2008 and August 2016.


Ten patients were included in the present study. The average age was 72.4 years, the male:female ratio 9:1 and the average blood creatinine value 5.96 mg/dL. The average follow-up was 18 months.


A thoracentesis showed an exudate was found in 9 patients and in 1 case pleural fluid characteristics were not recorded for technical reasons; in none of them the cytologic or microbiological analyses were considered diagnostic.


The clinical suspicion was a neoplastic (5) or an infectious disease (5). In 4 patients with recurrent PE, MT was performed to obtain talc pleurodesis.


No immediate procedure-related complications were recorded; 1 patient developed empyema after 2 months. In 6 cases final diagnosis was chronic uremic pleuritis, hydrothorax in 2, and chronic lymphocytic pleurisy in 2.


MT represents a safe and effective diagnostic and therapeutic procedure in patients with CKD, that itself is a common cause of exudative effusion, and those patients may not require MT.

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