This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
The external use of iodine, combined with pressure, aids in the absorption of such effusions, and some surgeons have, in chronic cases, injected a weak iodine solution (4 to 5 gr. to the pint) into the pleural cavity, and with ultimate success. It seems to be, however, an operation of unusual risk, and one which has been followed, more than once, by death from inflammatory reaction, embolism, or shock (v. Empyema).
In Ascites of chronic character, M. Boinet injected iodine, in the first instance by mistake, thinking the case ovarian; but, after a very serious attack of peritonitis, the patient at length recovered ("Iodotherapie," 1855). Leriche, Dieulafoy, and some few other surgeons have recorded similar cases, and remark that the ascitic fluid should not be all evacuated previous to injection, so that moderate dilution of the iodine may be insured. Dr. Ford (U. S.), has recently reported two cases of ascites cured by iodine injection, so that the operation is by no means obsolete. One of his cases "was connected with renal mischief," the other "followed on cessation of the menses." After tapping, he injected 2 oz. of tinct. iodi with an equal quantity of water (Practitioner, i., 1877).
The cases alluded to are not very clearly described by their narrators, but we must recognize that those suited for this method of treatment can only be of certain kinds; for instance, such as are dependent on chronic peritonitis, or simple anomalies of secretion, or perhaps on hepatic disorder, but not cases of ascites connected with cardiac or advanced renal disease, or anaemia.