Rationale: Intrapleural therapy with a combination of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) 10 mg and DNase 5 mg administered twice daily has been shown in randomized and open-label studies to successfully manage over 90% of patients with pleural infection without surgery. Potential bleeding risks associated with intrapleural tPA and its costs remain important concerns. The aim of the ongoing Alteplase Dose Assessment for Pleural infection Therapy (ADAPT) project is to investigate the efficacy and safety of dose de-escalation for intrapleural tPA. The first of several planned studies is presented here.
Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of a reduced starting dose regimen of 5 mg of tPA with 5 mg of DNase administered intrapleurally for pleural infection.
Methods: Consecutive patients with pleural infection at four participating centers in Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand were included in this observational, open-label study. Treatment was initiated with tPA 5 mg and DNase 5 mg twice daily. Subsequent dose escalation was permitted at the discretion of the attending physician. Data relating to treatment success, radiological and systemic inflammatory changes (blood C-reactive protein), volume of fluid drained, length of hospital stay, and treatment complications were extracted retrospectively from the medical records.
Results: We evaluated 61 patients (41 males; age, 57 ± 16 yr). Most patients (n = 58 [93.4%]) were successfully treated without requiring surgery for pleural infection. Treatment success was corroborated by clearance of pleural opacities visualized by chest radiography (from 42% [interquartile range, 22–58] to 16% [8–31] of hemithorax; P < 0.001), increase in pleural fluid drainage (from 175 ml in the 24 h preceding treatment to 2,025 ml [interquartile range, 1,247–2,984] over 72 h of therapy; P < 0.05) and a reduction in blood C-reactive protein (P < 0.05). Seven patients (11.5%) had dose escalation of tPA to 10 mg. Three patients underwent surgery. Three patients (4.9%) received blood transfusions for gradual pleural blood loss; none were hemodynamically compromised. Pain requiring escalation of analgesia affected 36% of patients; none required cessation of therapy.
Conclusions: These pilot data suggest that a starting dose of 5 mg of tPA administered intrapleurally twice daily in combination with 5 mg of DNase for the treatment of pleural infection is safe and effective. This regimen should be tested in future randomized controlled trials.