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Original Investigation
February 3, 2020

Effectiveness of Intrapleural Tissue Plasminogen Activator and Dornase Alfa vs Tissue Plasminogen Activator Alone in Children with Pleural Empyema: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Author Affiliations
  • 1McMaster Children’s Hospital, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Golisano Children’s Hospital, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York
  • 3Department of Pediatrics, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 4Image-Guided Therapy, Department of Diagnostic Imaging, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 5Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 6Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 7British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital, Division of Respiratory Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 8Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • 9Alberta Children’s Hospital, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 10Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 11Applied Health Research Centre, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 12Li Ka Shing Centre for Healthcare Analytics Research and Training, St Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 13Centre for Excellence in Economic Analysis Research (CLEAR), The HUB Health Research Solutions, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 14Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
JAMA Pediatr. Published online February 3, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.5863
Key Points

Question  Is intrapleural tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and dornase alfa (DNase) beneficial in pediatric empyema compared with tPA alone?

Findings  In this multicenter randomized clinical trial of 97 children with pleural empyema, there were no significant differences between those treated with tPA and DNase and those treated with tPA and placebo.

Meaning  Guidelines should continue to support the use of chest tube insertion and intrapleural fibrinolytics alone as first-line treatment for pediatric empyema.

Abstract

Importance  Clinical guidelines recommend that children with pleural empyema be treated with chest tube insertion and intrapleural fibrinolytics. The addition of dornase alfa (DNase) has been reported to improve outcomes in adults but remains unproven in children.

Objective  To determine if intrapleural tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and DNase is more effective than tPA and placebo at reducing hospital length of stay in children with pleural empyema.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This multicenter, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, superiority randomized clinical trial included children diagnosed as having pleural empyema requiring drainage aged 6 months to 18 years treated at 6 tertiary Canadian children’s hospitals. A total of 379 children were assessed for eligibility; 281 were excluded and 98 were randomized. One child was excluded after randomization for not meeting the inclusion criteria. Data were collected from March 4, 2013, to December 13, 2017.

Interventions  Participants underwent chest tube insertion and 3 daily administrations of intrapleural tPA, 4 mg, followed by DNase, 5 mg (intervention group), or 5 mL of normal saline (placebo; control group). Participants, families, clinical staff, and members of the study team were blinded to allocation.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome was hospital length of stay from chest tube insertion to discharge. Secondary outcomes included time to meeting discharge criteria, time to chest tube removal, mean fever duration, additional pleural drainage procedures, hospital readmissions, and total health care cost.

Results  Of the 97 analyzed children with pleural empyema, 52 (54%) were male, and the mean (SD) age was 5.1 (3.6) years. A total of 49 children were randomized to tPA and DNase and 48 were randomized to tPA and placebo. Treatment with tPA and DNase was not associated with decreased hospital length of stay compared with tPA and placebo (mean [SD] length of stay, 9.0 [4.9] vs 9.1 [5.3] days; mean difference, −0.1 days; 95% CI, −2.0 to 2.1; P = .96). Similarly, no significant differences were observed for any of the secondary outcomes. Of the 14 adverse events in the tPA and DNase group, 6 (43%) were serious; of the 21 adverse events in the tPA and placebo group, 8 (38%) were serious. There were no deaths.

Conclusions and Relevance  The addition of DNase to intrapleural tPA for children with pleural empyema had no effect on hospital length of stay or other outcomes compared with tPA with placebo. Clinical practice guidelines should continue to support the use of chest tube insertion and intrapleural fibrinolytics alone as first-line treatment for pediatric empyema.

Trial Registration  ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01717742

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