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Ann Thorac Surg. 2013 Jun;95(6):1885-90; discussion 1890-1. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2013.04.014. Epub 2013 May 3.

Completion pneumonectomy: outcomes for benign and malignant indications.

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Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.



Past series have identified completion pneumonectomy (CP) as a high-risk operation. We evaluated factors affecting outcomes of CP with a selective approach to offering this operation.


We analyzed a prospective institutional database and abstracted information on patients undergoing pneumonectomy. Patients undergoing CP were compared with those undergoing primary pneumonectomy (PP).


Between January 2000 and February 2011, 211 patients underwent pneumonectomy, of which 35 (17%) were CPs. Ten of 35 (29%) CPs were for benign disease and 25 of 35 (71%) for cancer. Major perioperative morbidity was seen in 21 of 35 (60%) with 4 (11%) perioperative deaths. In univariate analysis, postoperative bronchopleural fistula (p = 0.05) and benign diagnosis (p = 0.07) tended to be associated with perioperative mortality. All 10 patients undergoing CP for benign disease developed a major complication compared with 11 of 25 (44%) with malignancy, p = 0.002. A bronchopleural fistula (4 of 35, 11%) was more likely to occur in patients undergoing CP shortly after the primary operation (interval between lobectomy and CP; 0.28 vs 4.5 years; p = 0.018) with a trend toward a benign indication for operation (p = 0.07). Median survival after CP for benign and malignant indications was 24.3 months and 36.5 months, respectively. Comparing CP patients to those undergoing PP (n = 176), CP patients were more likely to undergo an operation for benign disease (10 of 35, 29% vs 14 of 176, 8%, p = 0.001). Perioperative mortality for PP was 10 of 176 (5.7%), and was statistically similar to CP (11%).


Despite a selective approach, CP remains a morbid operation, particularly for benign indications. Rigorous preoperative optimization, ruling out contraindications to operation and attention to technical detail, are recommended.

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