Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2021 Oct 25. doi: 10.1097/MCP.0000000000000841. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Pleural disease guidelines have not been updated in a decade. Advances have been made in the diagnosis and management of pleural diseases since, with expanding evidence of the utility of medical thoracoscopy (MT) as a safe and effective tool.
RECENT FINDINGS: Although thoracic ultrasound has improved early determination of pleural disease etiology, thoracentesis remains limited, and pleural tissue is necessary for the diagnosis of undifferentiated exudative pleural effusions. Medical thoracoscopy has been shown to be superior to traditional closed pleural biopsy, and recent literature is focused on which technique is best. A recent randomized controlled trial (RCT) found rigid mini-thoracoscopy was not superior to semirigid thoracoscopy. Meta-analyses have not found pleural cyrobiopsy to be superior to forceps biopsies. As a therapeutic tool, meta-analysis suggests MT as a possible first-line tool for the treatment of complicated parapneumonic effusions (CPE) and early empyema. A RCT comparing MT to intrapleural fibrinolytic therapy demonstrated that the former technique is safe, effective, and may shorten hospital length of stay in patients with CPE/empyema.
SUMMARY: The implications of the recent findings in the medical literature are that medical thoracoscopy, particularly by trained Interventional Pulmonologists, will find an expanded role in future iteration of pleural disease guidelines.