J Clin Med. 2022 Dec 5;11(23):7221. doi: 10.3390/jcm11237221.
Background/Aims: The management of hepatic hydrothorax (HH) remains a challenging clinical scenario with suboptimal options. We investigated the effect and safety of pigtail catheter drainage compared to intermittent thoracentesis. Methods: This multicenter, retrospective study included 164 cirrhotic patients with recurrent pleural effusion from March 2012 to June 2017. Patients with neoplasms, cardiopulmonary disease, and infectious conditions were excluded. We compared the clinical outcomes of pigtail catheter drainage versus thoracentesis for variables including complications related to procedures, overall survival, and re-admission rates. Results: A total of 164 patients were divided into pigtail catheter (n = 115) and thoracentesis (n = 49) groups. During the follow-up period of 6.93 months after discharge, 98 patients died (pigtail; n = 47 vs. thoracentesis; n = 51). The overall survival (p = 0.61) and 30-day mortality (p = 0.77) rates were similar between the pigtail catheter and thoracentesis groups. Only MELD scores were associated with overall survival (adjusted HR, 1.08; p < 0.01) in patients with HH. Spontaneous pleurodesis occurred in 59 patients (51.3%) in the pigtail catheter group. Re-admission rates did not differ between the pigtail catheter and thoracentesis groups (13.2% vs 19.6% p = 0.7). A total of five complications occurred, including four total cases of bleeding (one patient in the pigtail catheter group and three in the thoracentesis group) and one case of empyema in the pigtail catheter group. Conclusions: Pigtail catheter drainage is not inferior to that of intermittent thoracentesis for the management of HH, proving it may be an effective and safe clinical option.