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ANZ J Surg. 2006 Mar;76(3):120-2.

Benefits of early aggressive management of empyema thoracis.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Erciyes University Medical Faculty, Kayseri, Turkey.



The end-target of the management of thoracic empyema is to obtain early rehabilitation by re-expansion of the trapped lung resulting from intrapleural infected material. Our aim was to shorten the hospitalization time and to prevent a possible thoracotomy by using video-assisted thoracoscopy initially.


Seventy patients with parapneumonic empyema were prospectively studied between January 1997 and June 2004. The patients were randomly divided into two groups. In group I (n = 35 patients), a chest tube was inserted into the patients after pleural content was evacuated and fibrins were debrided using video-assisted thoracoscopy. In group II (n = 35 patients), tube thoracostomy was carried out without using a video-assisted thoracoscope. Both groups were compared in terms of hospitalization time, open surgery for decortication and complications.


There was no statistically significant difference between the groups from the point of view of age and sex (P > 0.05). In group I, 17.1% of the patients underwent open decortication, whereas in group II, 37.1% of the patients underwent the same procedure (P < 0.05). Whereas average hospital stay in group I was 8.3 days (range, 7-11 days), it was 12.8 days in group II (range, 10-18 days; P < 0.05). There was one bronchopleural fistula in group I, and there was one bronchopleural fistula and one death in group II.


Video-assisted thoracoscopic evacuation and chest tube insertion in situ is a new therapeutic approach for pleural empyema that shortens hospital stay and reduces the necessity of open decortication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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