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Eur J Radiol. 2012 Jan;81(1):165-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2010.08.040. Epub 2010 Oct 2.

Radiographic imaging features of thoracic complications after pneumonectomy in oncologic patients.

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  • 1Department of Radiological Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, United States.



The morbidity and mortality for pneumonectomy in patients has been reported to be as high as 24%. To determine if a subset of patients undergoing pneumonectomy for a malignancy would have similar complication rates and appearances, we performed a review of the radiographic findings of patients at our institution.


A retrospective review of a thoracic surgery database was performed at our institution for patients who underwent pneumonectomy between January 2001 and April 2004. All images were reviewed on the institutional patient archive communication system, by two experienced, fellowship trained, thoracic radiologists.


There were 144 patients (112 men and 32 women) with a mean age of 52 years (range 21-83 years). Of the 144 patients, thoracic complications were present in 52 (36%) patients consisting of pneumonia in 19 (13%), empyema/pleural space infection in 9 (6%), adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in 8 (6%), bronchopleural fistula in 7 (5%), gortex graft failure/organ herniation in 4 (3%), chylothorax/chyle leak in 2 (1%), pulmonary embolus in 2 (1%), pulmonary hemorrhage in 1 (<1%).


In oncologic patients, post-pneumonectomy complications occur in over a third of patients and can be life threatening. The presentations are similar to other pneumonectomy patients and are often radiographically detectable. Therefore it is important for radiologist to be aware of the radiographic manifestations of these complications so that appropriate immediate treatment is instituted.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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