Malignant pleural effusion (MPE) results from primary mesothelioma or the spreading of metastatic cancer. Both talc pleurodesis (TP) and indwelling pleural catheter (IPC) improve MPE symptoms. We performed a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to compare the efficacy of TP with that of IPC in patients with MPE. PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and ClinicalTrials.gov databases were searched for studies published before February 2020. Individual effect sizes were standardized, and a meta-analysis was conducted to calculate a pooled effect size by using random effects models. In total, 4 trials with 500 patients were reviewed. Difference in pleurodesis success rate and change in dyspnea scores at 4 and 6 weeks between MPE patients treated with IPC and those treated with TP for pleurodesis were nonsignificant. The number of hospital inpatient days was significantly lower among patients who were treated with IPC (weight mean difference: 2.19; 95% confidence interval 0.70–3.67) than among those who were treated with TP. No significant difference was shown in adverse event profile between patients treated with IPC and those treated with TP for pleurodesis. In conclusion, both TP and IPC are equally effective in treating patients with MPE. The number of hospitalization days was significantly lower for patients who were treated with IPC, but the magnitude of the difference is of uncertain clinical importance.
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