Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 2499–2502 | Cite as

Conventional versus pigtail chest tube—are they similar for treatment of malignant pleural effusions?

  • Maria Aurora Mendes
  • Nuno China Pereira
  • Carla Ribeiro
  • Manuela Vanzeller
  • Teresa Shiang
  • Rita Gaio
  • Sérgio Campainha



The optimal chest tube type and size for drainage and chemical pleurodesis of malignant pleural effusions remains controversial. This retrospective study was conducted to compare the efficacy of conventional versus pigtail chest tube in the treatment of malignant pleural effusions.


Patients submitted to chest tube drainage and slurry talc pleurodesis due to malignant pleural effusion in our pulmonology ward from 2012 to 2016 were eligible. According to the type of chest tube, they were divided into two groups: group I—conventional chest tube and group II—pigtail chest tube. Number of deaths, recurrence of malignant pleural effusion, and timelines associated with the procedures were reviewed and compared between groups.


Out of the 61 included patients, 46 (75.4%) were included in group I and 15 (24.6%) in group II. Only one patient had pigtail chest tube obstruction, with posterior insertion of conventional chest tube. Death during hospital stay and up to 3 months, recurrence at 4 weeks, total duration of hospital stay, time from chest tube insertion to pleurodesis, and time from chest tube insertion to removal were not significantly different between the two groups (all p > 0.05).


These findings suggest that pigtail chest tube can be an alternative on palliation, with no compromise in pleurodesis performance.


Malignant pleural effusion Pleurodesis Conventional and pigtail chest tube 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pulmonology DepartmentCentro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/EspinhoVila Nova de GaiaPortugal
  2. 2.Departamento de MatemáticaFaculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto and Centro de Matemática da Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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