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Singapore Med J. 2010 Mar;51(3):242-6.

Treatment of multiloculated empyema thoracis using minimally invasive methods.

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Yedikule Chest Disease and Chest Surgery Teaching Hospital, First Chest Surgery Clinic, Istanbul, Turkey.



The purpose of this study was to investigate the results of minimally invasive treatment modalities in early stage multiloculated empyema thoracis.


The minimally invasive treatment modalities of 114 patients with Class 5 thoracic empyema were retrospectively reviewed. The patients' demographics, symptoms, diagnostic studies, treatment options and complications were evaluated.


A total of 47 patients underwent tube thoracostomy, 23 patients underwent fibrinolytic therapy with streptokinase and 44 patients underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) deloculation and debridement. No statistical differences were found in the patients' age, gender, Gram stain and antibiotherapy before intervention among the groups. Illness days before intervention was significantly longer in the tube thoracostomy group than in the others. The VATS group had a shorter drainage time and hospital stay than the others. The VATS and fibrinolytic therapy groups had lower complication rates and less open decortication requirements than the tube thoracostomy group. Success rates were 66, 95 and 100 percent in the tube thoracostomy, fibrinolytic therapy and VATS groups, respectively. In total, there were 35 patients with complications. The most frequent complication was air space. Two inhospital mortalities occurred.


In patients with early stage multiloculated empyema, VATS deloculation and debridement is superior to tube thoracostomy alone and fibrinolitic therapy in reducing drainage time and hospital stay. It has a relatively high success rate without significant morbidity. Therefore, VATS decortication may be recommended as a first-line therapy in early stage multiloculated empyema thoracis.

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