To lyse or not to lyse? Use of intrapleural tissue plasminogen activator and DNase in the management of parapneumonic effusions and empyema


  • Oluwasegun Afolaranmi College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria
  • Oreoluwa Arowojolu College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria



DNase, Empyema, Intrapleural fibrinolytics, Parapneumonic effusion, Tissue plasminogen activator


Despite a range of management options, pleural effusions and empyema continue to present therapeutic challenges in the clinical setting. With treatment options ranging from simple use of antibiotics to more complex surgical procedures, several important considerations need be made as to what type of treatment is best for each patient on a case by case basis. One treatment modality of increasing interest is the use of intrapleural fibrinolytics to facilitate drainage of effusions. This presents a viable option especially in patients in whom surgery is not preferred. But, as with many therapeutic approaches, the use of intrapleural fibrinolytics is laden with significant controversies and has been a subject of considerable debate over the last couple of years. With accruing evidence for and against this modality of treatment, the ensuing discussion has been whether or not it should be a routine treatment choice and which group of patients should this consideration be made for. This paper gives a background on the epidemiology and etiology of parapneumonic effusions and empyema and briefly outlines the available options of management. Furthermore, we extensively discuss available evidence on the use of intrapleural fibrinolytics as a management option for parapneumonic effusions and empyema, with particular emphasis on use of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and DNase.



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