Mixing It Up: Coadministration of tPA/DNase in Complicated Parapneumonic Pleural Effusions and Empyema

Raju Bishwakarma, Shiwan Shah, Luba Frank, Wei Zhang, Gulshan Sharma, Shawn P.E. Nishi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: A recent randomized controlled trial showed 12 serial doses of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and deoxyribonuclease (DNase) is safe and effective in managing complicated parapneumonic pleural effusions and empyema (CPEE). However, this regimen is laborious, requiring trained personnel to open/close the chest tube 8 times daily for 3 days. We present our observational data using a simplified regimen of coadministered tPA/DNase. Materials and Methods: This is a retrospective observational study of patients who received coadministered tPA/DNase for CPEE from January 2012 to April 2015 at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Patient demographics, pleural fluid, radiologic and treatment characteristics, and outcomes were collected. Data are presented as proportions and percentages. Our primary outcome was successful treatment without need of surgery and discharge home alive. Secondary outcomes were dose and length of treatment and hospital stay, treatment complications, and 90-day mortality. Results: The study included 39 patients. All pleural effusions were loculated, 59% macroscopically purulent, 50% had a positive organism in Gram stain, and 40% were culture positive. A median of 6 (interquartile range, 3.5 to 6) doses were coadministered mainly via small bore chest tube (≤ 14 Fr in 79%) with a median of 14.5 (interquartile range, 9.5 to 21.5) hospital days. Overall, 85% were successfully treated without need for surgery. Treatment failures occurred in 15%: 3/39 (7%) received surgery; 3/39 (7%) died. Only 1 (2.5%) complication of hemorrhagic pleural effusion resolved after discontinuation of intrapleural treatment. Conclusions: Our study shows intrapleural coadministration of tPA/DNase was effective and safe in management of CPEE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • chest tube
  • complicated parapneumonic effusion
  • deoxyribonuclease
  • empyema
  • fibrinolytic
  • tissue plasminogen activator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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