Surgery can only offer palliation in an attempt to slow the progression of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). This study assessed the effectiveness and safety of pleurectomy/decortication in establishing a tissue diagnosis and controlling pleural fluid accumulation and symptoms in patients with MPM. METHODS: Pleurectomy results in 100 patients with MPM over a 19 year period were reviewed. Major symptoms were chest pain, cough and dyspnea, and radiographic findings included pleural mass, pleural fluid and constriction of involved hemithorax. RESULTS: Approximately two thirds of the patients underwent surgery prior to tissue diagnosis.
Eighty-nine patients had stage I and stage II disease, 8 and 81%, respectively. The patients underwent subtotal (44%) or total pleurectomy (56%). The surgical mortality rate was 1% and the morbidity rate was 22%. Morbidity included prolonged air leak, empyema (accumulation of pus in the body cavity), reaccumulation of pleural fluid and wound infection. Palliative results included dyspnea (labored breathing) and cough relief in all patients, chest relief in 60 (85%) and pleural fluid control in 52 (96%) patients. Median survival was 17 months in MPM patients. CONCLUSIONS: Pleurectomy/decortication safely provides both tissue diagnosis and effective control of pleural effusion and symptoms and therefore excellent palliation in patients with MPM. Soysal, et al., European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, 11(2):210-3, February 1997.
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