Is Medical Thoracoscopy Efficient in the Management of Multiloculated and Organized Thoracic Empyema?

Department of Disease of the Thorax, Pulmonology Unit, Morgagni Hospital, Forlì, Italy.
Respiration (Impact Factor: 2.59). 07/2012; 84(3):219-24. DOI: 10.1159/000339414
Source: PubMed


Background: Pleural empyema can be subdivided into 3 stages: exudative, multiloculated, and organizing. In the absence of clear septation, antibiotics plus simple drainage of pleural fluid is often sufficient treatment, whereas clear septation often requires more invasive treatment. Objectives: The aim of this study was to report our experience and analyze the safety and efficacy of medical thoracoscopy in patients with multiloculated and organizing empyema. Methods: We performed a retrospective study reviewing the files of patients referred for empyema and treated by medical thoracoscopy at our department from July 2005 to February 2011. Results: A total of 41 patients with empyema were treated by medical thoracoscopy; empyema was free flowing in 9 patients (22%), multiloculated in 24 patients (58.5%), and organized in 8 patients (19.5%). Medical thoracoscopy was considered successful without further intervention in 35 of 41 patients (85.4%): all of the 9 patients with free-flowing fluid, 22 of the 24 patients with multiloculated empyema (91.7%), and only 4 of the 8 patients with organizing effusion (50%). Conclusions: Our study confirms that multiloculated pleural empyema could safely and successfully be treated with medical thoracoscopy while organizing empyema can be resistant to drainage with medical thoracoscopy, requiring video-assisted thoracic surgery or open surgical decortications; among this population, the presence of separate 'pockets' not in apparent communication with each other often leads to a surgical approach.

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    • "The usefulness of this procedure in pleural infection has not been well evaluated. Several retrospective studies reported high success rates with low complication rates in multiloculated empyema16,17. However, since there was no randomized study for the utility and safety of this procedure in pleural infection, further prospective comparative studies are needed. "
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