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Surg Endosc. 2002 Nov;16(11):1612-4. Epub 2002 Jun 27.

Thoracoscopic-assisted management of postpneumonic empyema in children refractory to medical response.

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  • 1Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University, 199 Tun-Hwa N Road, Taipei, Taiwan 105. hpliu125@ms21.hinet.net



Empyema frequently complicates the hospitalization of children; and in advanced stages, it often requires surgical intervention. In this study, we investigated the use of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) for the management of postpneumonic empyema in children who have had an unsatisfactory medical response.


We did a retrospective review of the medical records of 51 consecutive patients with loculated empyema (mean age, 5 years; range, 2 months to 15 years) hospitalized at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital between 1995 and 2000. All patients underwent debridement of the necrotic lung tissue and evacuation of the loculated empyema cavity using a VATS approach.


The mean operating time for the 51 patients was 90 min (range, 50-210); mean blood loss was 70 cc. Fever subsided within 72 h postoperatively in all patients. On average, chest tubing was removed on the 7th postoperative day (range, 4-18 days). However, in one patient who suffered from a prolonged air leak, the chest tube was not removed until day 18. The mean postoperative stay for all patients was 13.7 days (range, 9-23). No deaths occurred, and all of the children made a good recovery. A follow-up revealed that one of the 51 children patient suffered a left upper lung abscess 7 months after discharge. Left upper lobectomy was performed in this case, and the patient was discharged uneventfully 10 days after the operation.


VATS is a safe and effective treatment for pediatric empyema. Thoracoscopic-assisted surgery facilitates visualization, evacuation, and debridement of the necrotizing lung tissue. Early surgical intervention can avoid lengthy hospitalization and prolonged intravenous antibiotic therapy, and it can accelerate clinical recovery.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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