Annals of Thoracic Medicine Official publication of the Saudi Thoracic Society, affiliated to King Saud University
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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 71-78

Video-assisted thoracoscopic decortication for the management of late stage pleural empyema, is it feasible?

Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, King Khalid University Hospital, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Waseem M Hajjar
Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, King Saud University, King Khalid University Hospital, P. O. Box 7805, Riyadh 11472
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1817-1737.165293

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Background: Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgical decortication (VATSD) is widely applicable in fibrinopurulent Stage II empyema. While, more chronic thick walled Stage III empyema (organizing stage) needs conversion to open thoracotomy, and existing reports reveal a lacuna in the realm of late stage empyema patient's management through VATS utilization, particularly Stage III empyema. We prospectively evaluated the application of VATSD regardless of the stage of pleural empyema for the effective management of late stage empyema in comparison to open decortications (ODs) to minimize the adverse effects of the disease. Methods: All patients with pyogenic pleural empyema (Stage II and Stage III) in King Khalid University Hospital (KKUH) (admitted from January 2009 to December 2013) who did not respond to chest tube/pigtail drainage and/or antibiotic therapy were treated with VATSD and/or open thoracotomy. Prospective evaluation was carried out, and the effect of this technique on perioperative outcomes was appraised to evaluate our technical learning with the passage of time and experience with VATS for late stage empyema management. Results: Out of total 63 patients, 26 had Stage II empyema and 37 had Stage III empyema. VATSD was employed on all empyema patients admitted in the KKUH. VATSD was successful in all patients with Stage II empyema. Twenty-five patients (67.6%) with Stage III empyema completed VATSD successfully. However, only 12 cases (32.4%) required conversions to open (thoracotomy) drainage (OD). The median hospital stay for Stage III VATSD required 9.65 ± 4.1 days. Whereas, patients who underwent open thoracotomy took longer time (21.82 ± 16.35 days). Similarly, Stage III VATSD and Stage III open surgery cases showed significance difference among chest tube duration (7.84 ± 3.33 days for VATS and 15.92 ± 8.2 days for open thoracotomy). Significantly, lower postoperative complications were detected in patients treated with VATSD in terms of atelectasis, prolonged air leak, wound infection, etc. Conlcusion: VATSD facilitates the management of fibrinopurulent, organized pyogenic pleural empyema with less postoperative discomfort, reduced hospitalization, and have fewer postoperative complications. VATSD can be an effective, safe first option for patients with Stage II pleural empyema, and feasible in most patients with Stage III pleural empyema.

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