Management of Malignant Pleural Effusion (MPE) in a Tertiary Hospital in a low-income-country: Challenges and Prospects


  • Nwafor IA
  • Nnakenyi EF
  • Eze JC
  • Nwidenyi IO



Malignant, effusion, sclerosants, pleurodesis, cytology


Background: In the West African sub-region, significant morbidity and mortality are known to affect patients with malignant pleural effusion (MPE) but are highly under reported unlike USA, Europe or South Africa.
Aim/Objective: To review cases of MPE in our tertiary hospital in the last 13 years with a view to determining the challenges and prospects.
Materials and Method: This is a retrospective study spanning over a decade from January, 2007 to December, 2019. Malignant pleural effusion from various neoplasms constitutes the commonest thoracic malignancy in our tertiary hospital. After 13 years of management of such patients, we reviewed the data from the hospital record’s department. The data obtained were demography, aetiology, total number of pleural fluid specimens for cytology and pleural biopsies submitted for histology, pleurodesis and other treatment modalities.
Result: 211 patients with MPE were admitted and managed during the period under review. Of these numbers, 135(64.0%) were confirmed cytologically positive (MPE). 76(36.0%) tested falsely negative and were initially regarded as paramalignant, later confirmed MPE. The age affected was from 7 to 81 years with a mean of 44 years. Of 211 patients with MPE, 94 were males while 117 were females, with a male to female ratio of 4:5. Aetiologically, metastatic breast cancer was the highest followed by advance lung cancer.
Conclusion: Submission of insufficient samples resulted in false negative cytology. Review of recurrent pleural effusion and exophytic tumour at the sites of CTTD resulted in late diagnosis of MPE. Additionally, prolonged hospital stay awaiting CTTD and cytology results are among the challenges.