Management of postpneumonic empyemas in children

Department of Thoracic Surgery, Dicle University School of Medicine, Diyarbakir, Turkey.
European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (Impact Factor: 3.3). 07/2004; 25(6):1072-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejcts.2003.12.025
Source: PubMed


Despite continued improvement in medical therapy, pediatric empyema remains a challenging problem for the surgeon. Multiple treatment options are available; however, the optimal therapeutic management has not been elucidated. The aim of this study is to assess different treatment options in the management of postpneumonic pediatric empyemas.
A retrospective review was performed of pediatric patients admitted to Dicle University School of Medicine Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Department between 1990 and 2002, with the diagnosis of empyema. Data tabulated included patient demographics, presentation, treatment and outcome.
There were 515 children (289 boys and 226 girls) with a mean age of 4.7 ranging from 18 days to 15 years. Empyema was secondary to pneumonia in all children. The most common radiologic finding was pleural effusion in 285 patients (55.32%). Staphylococcus aureus was the most frequently encountered organism and found in 105 patients (20.38%). Pleural fluid cultures were negative in 195 patients (37.86%). In addition to antibiotic therapy, initial treatment included serial thoracenthesis (n = 29), chest tube drainage alone (n = 214), chest tube drainage with intrapleural fibrinolytic therapy (n = 72), chest tube drainage with primary operation (n = 191), and primary operation without chest tube drainage (n = 9). Overall response rate with fibrinolytic treatment (complete and partial response) was obtained in 58 patients. In addition to decortication pulmonary resections were performed in 12 patients. Overall mortality rate was 1.55%. There was no operative mortality. Postoperative morbidity included wound infection in 21, delayed expansion in 8, and atelectasis in 35 patients.
Multiple therapeutic options are available for the management of pediatric empyema. Depending on stages, every option has a role in the treatment of postpneumonic pediatric empyema. In the absence of bronchopleural fistula, intrapleural fibrinolytic treatment should be tried in all patients with multiloculations in stage II empyema. In the absence of pneumonia, decortication for empyema is a safe approach with low mortality and morbidity rates.

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    ABSTRACT: The optimal treatment of children with empyema remains controversial. The purpose of this review was to compare reported results of nonoperative and primary operative therapy for the treatment of pediatric empyema. A systematic comprehensive review of the scientific literature was conducted with the PubMed (National Library of Medicine) database for the period from 1981 to 2004. This reproducible search identified all publications dealing with treatment of empyema in the pediatric population (<18 years of age). A meta-analysis was performed with studies with adequate data summaries for > or =1 of the outcomes of interest for both treatment groups. Sixty-seven studies were reviewed. Data were aggregated from reports of children initially treated nonoperatively (3418 cases from 54 studies) and of children treated with a primary operative approach (363 cases from 25 studies). The populations were similar in age. Patients who underwent primary operative therapy had a lower aggregate in-hospital mortality rate (0% vs 3.3%), reintervention rate (2.5% vs 23.5%), length of stay (10.8 vs 20.0 days), duration of tube thoracostomy (4.4 vs 10.6 days), and duration of antibiotic therapy (12.8 vs 21.3 days), compared with patients who underwent nonoperative therapy. In 8 studies for which meta-analysis was possible, patients who received primary operative therapy were found to have a pooled relative risk of failure of 0.09, compared with those who did not. Meta-analysis could not be performed for any of the other outcome measures investigated in this review. Similar complication rates were observed for the 2 groups (5% vs 5.6%). These aggregate results suggest that primary operative therapy is associated with a lower in-hospital mortality rate, reintervention rate, length of stay, time with tube thoracostomy, and time of antibiotic therapy, compared with nonoperative treatment. The meta-analysis demonstrates a significantly reduced relative risk of failure among patients treated operatively.
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