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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 2000 December;55(12):829-34

language: Italian

Videothoracoscopic treatment of pleural em-pyema

Solaini L., Prusciano F., di Francesco F., Bagioni P., Poddie D. B.


Background. To evaluate the possible role and the effectiveness of videothoracoscopy (VATS) in the treatment of pleural empyema.
Methods. Personal experience on 40 cases of pleural empyema treated by (VATS) during 5 years is reported. The underlying diseases were: pneumonia (32), pneumothorax (3), tubercolosis (2), abdominal diseases (2) and lung cancer (1). Before VATS at least one thoracentesis was performed to evaluate the characteristic of the pleural fluid.
Results. Due to complications related to thick pleural adhesions, in one case (2.5%) the procedure was converted to open surgery, while in the remaining 39 cases VATS was able to achieve a complete cleaning of the pleural space with re-expansion of the pulmonary parenchyma. The improvement of the clinical symptoms were observed after a mean period of 3.5 days (range: 1-12 days). Chest tube was removed in a mean period of 4.8 days (range: 3-11 days); five patients had prolonged air leak from 6 to 10 days after surgery.
Conclusions. In conclusion we are of the opinion that VATS has to be considered a very important mean for the treatment of pleural empyema; its use in the fibrinopurulent phase of the disease should give very good results, while in the following phase its indications are controversial.

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