Extended pleurectomy decortication: the current role
Extended pleurectomy/decortication (EPD) has been formally defined but there remain technical areas of debate between practitioners. This is partly attributable to the relative rarity of this operation which is largely confined to a small number of specialist centres. Nevertheless, there is a widespread acceptance that extended pleurectomy/decortication (P/D) is a realistic and favourable alternative to extrapleural pneumonectomy. There may, however, remain a small number of clinical cases where this more extensive operation may be indicated. Preservation of the lung has widened the selection criteria for this form of radical mesothelioma surgery but there remain important factors to consider when offering extended P/D. In many patients with poorer prognostic factors the less radical operation of video assisted partial pleurectomy may be preferable. However, a randomized trial showed no survival benefit for this operation over simple talc pleurodesis. The future for P/D may also lie in the outcome of the MARS2 randomized controlled trial which will report in the next few years. Meanwhile there is a clinical and ethical dilemma when asked to perform this operation outside of the context of a clinical trial in the face of the lack of high grade evidence. The role of P/D is in one respect expanding but this may be short lived pending the findings of its assessment against non-surgical treatment.