A simple method of using a Foley catheter to drain pleural effusion

Alon Ben-Nun*, Lael Anson Best

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pleural effusion is a common problem, and various techniques of pleural fluid drainage have been described. We report our experience of using a Foley-type catheter to drain pleural effusion. After the injection of local anesthesia, the catheter is inserted, usually through the 7th intercostal space, with the patient sitting upright. The size of the catheter is selected according to the predicted fluid characteristics, and ranges from 18 to 24 F. Once the catheter is positioned in the pleural space, the balloon is inflated with diluted soluble contrast material and connected to a urine collection bag. During the last 10 years, we have used 3500 catheters for this purpose. The catheter site can be used as a port for various procedures, including needle biopsy of the parietal pleura, talc-slurry pleurodesis, and intra-pleural fibrinolysis. This method of pleural drainage is simple, reliable, and inexpensive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-770
Number of pages2
JournalSurgery Today
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Drainage
  • Foley catheter
  • Pleural effusion


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