Safety and Outcomes of Outpatient Pleural Drainage in Symptomatic Postoperative Cardiac Surgery Patients.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

J Bronchology Interv Pulmonol


washington; seattle; swedish cancer; oregon; portland; cards; cards publication


BACKGROUND: Symptomatic pleural effusions and anticoagulant/antiplatelet medication use in postoperative cardiac surgery are common. Guidelines and recommendations are currently mixed regarding medication management related to invasive procedure performance. We aimed to describe the outcomes of postoperative cardiac surgery patients referred for outpatient, symptomatic pleural effusion management.

METHODS: A retrospective study of post-cardiac surgery patients undergoing outpatient thoracentesis from 2016 to 2021 was performed. Demographics, operative details, pleural disease characteristics, outcomes, and complications were collected. Odds ratios with confidence intervals were estimated and adjusted by multivariate logistic regression to investigate the association with multiple thoracenteses.

RESULTS: A total of 110 patients underwent 332 thoracenteses. The median age was 68 years and most common operation was coronary artery bypass. Anticoagulation or antiplatelet use was identified in 97%. Thirteen complications were identified, with all major complications (n=3) related to bleeding. The amount of fluid present at the time of initial thoracentesis (>1500 milliliters) was associated with increased odds ratio of subsequent multiple thoracentesis (Unadjusted odds ratio, 6.75 (CI - 1.43 to 31.9). No other variables had a significant association with the need for multiple procedures.

CONCLUSION: Within a postoperative cardiac surgery population presenting with symptomatic pleural disease, we observed that thoracentesis performed on antiplatelet and/or anticoagulant medication is relatively safe. We also identified that many patients can be managed as outpatients and that most pleural effusions remain self-limited. The presence of larger amounts of pleural fluid at initial thoracentesis may be associated with increased odds for additional drainage.

Clinical Institute

Cardiovascular (Heart)

Clinical Institute



Swedish Thoracic Surgery




Pulmonary Medicine