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Indian J Pediatr. 2011 Nov;78(11):1371-7. doi: 10.1007/s12098-011-0416-y. Epub 2011 May 8.

Empyema thoracis: analysis of 150 cases from a tertiary care centre in North East India.

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Department of Pediatric Disciplines, North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS), Mawdiangdiang, Shillong, Meghalaya, India.



To analyze the clinical characteristics, microbiological profile, management, complications and outcome of cases with empyema thoracis.


All cases diagnosed as 'empyema thoracis' over a period from January 2006 through June 2010 were identified from the inpatient records and discharge summaries. Of the 160 cases identified, 150 cases were taken up for analysis and the rest 10 cases, of which two had significant predisposing co-morbidity and eight cases diagnosed as tubercular empyema thoracis were excluded from the analysis.


Mean age of presentation was 4.74 ± 3.53 years and two thirds of the children were under 5 years with male to female ratio of 1.42:1. Pus culture was positive in 32% (48 cases) with Streptococcus pneumoniae being the commonest organism isolated (31 cases, 64.6%) followed by Staphylococcus aureus (11 cases, 22.9%), Klebsiella pneumoniae (3 cases, 6.3%), Haemophilus influenzae type b (2 cases, 4.2%) and Enterococcus (1 case, 2%). Clustering was seen in the hot and humid months from April to July (63.3%). Fever was the commonest presentation (96.7%) followed by cough (90%), breathing difficulty (66.7%), chest pain (26.7%) and pain abdomen (10.7%). Ampicillin and cloxacillin was used as the first line antibiotic in 57.3% cases. Average duration of intercostal water seal drainage (ICWSD) in situ was 13.5 ± 8.05 days and 59 patients (39.3%) received fibrinolytic therapy. The commonest complications were collapse (18%), thickened pleura (16.7%), pericardial effusion (8%), cardiac tamponade (3.3%) and bronchopleural fistula (3.3%). Surgical procedures involved in this case series were decortication (14 cases, 9.3%), pericardiocentesis (5.3%), pericardiostomy (2.7%) and pericardiectomy (1.6%). Mortality was 3.3%.


This is the first report of empyema thoracis from the north eastern region of India. Streptococcus pneumoniae was found to be the leading cause of empyema thoracis in this case series. Conservative management with ICWSD and antibiotics or early use of fibrinolytic therapy if indicated are effective modalities of treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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