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The role of medical thoracoscopy in the diagnosis of exudative pleural effusion at the Chest Department of Zagazig University Hospitals



Thoracoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows visualization of the pleural space and intrathoracic structures. It enables taking pleural biopsies under direct vision, therapeutic drainage of effusions, and pleurodesis in one sitting. Persistent and recurrent exudative pleural effusions become common and thoracocentesis and blind pleural biopsy procedures do not give a definitive diagnosis in many patients. Therefore, thoracoscopy today remains the gold standard for these cases. In tuberculous pleuritis, the combined yield of histology and culture for rigid thoracoscopy was nearly 100%.


The aim of the present study was to examine the diagnostic yield of medical thoracoscopy in patients with undiagnosed exudative pleural effusion.

Patients and methods

This study was carried out at the chest department of Zagazig University Hospitals in the period from October 2014 to October 2015. It included 36 patients with undiagnosed pleural effusion. All participants signed a written informed consent. The included patients were subjected to full history taking, clinical examination, plain chest radiograph, ultrasonography, computed tomography of the chest, and tuberculosis assessment. Diagnostic aspiration of pleural fluid was performed by using chemical, cytological, and bacteriological analyses. Closed pleural biopsy was carried out in patients with unhelpful pleural fluid analysis. Lastly, if the etiology remained unknown, thoracoscopy was carried out.


The present study included 18 men and 18 women patients, with a mean age of 54.4±16.1 years. Dyspnea was the most common presenting symptom among the studied patients. Sixteen (72.2%) patients had moderate right-sided pleural effusion. The diagnostic yield of medical thoracoscopy among the studied patients was 80.6%. The histopathological yield of thoracoscopic pleural biopsies was as follows: 25 (69.4%) malignant cases, two (5.6%) patients with tuberculous pleuritis, one (2.8%) patient diagnosed with empyema, and another one (2.8%) with collagenic disease. There were seven (19.4%) patients who were not diagnosed. The post-thoracoscopic complications in this study occurred only in nine (25%) patients, which were minor complications in the form of surgical emphysema and prolonged air leak, wound infection, dislodged drain, trapped lung, and pain during the procedure.


Medical thoracoscopy is a good diagnostic procedure for pulmonologists to evaluate undiagnosed pleural effusions.


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Yousef, A.E.R.I., Morsi, A.F., El-Shabrawy, M. et al. The role of medical thoracoscopy in the diagnosis of exudative pleural effusion at the Chest Department of Zagazig University Hospitals. Egypt J Bronchol 10, 225–231 (2016).

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