Surgery increased the chance of cure in multi-drug resistant pulmonary tuberculosis

S W Sung, C H Kang, Y T Kim, S K Han, Y S Shim, J H Kim
European Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery 1999, 16 (2): 187-93

BACKGROUND: Medical treatment of multiple drug resistant (MDR) pulmonary tuberculosis is generally quite unsuccessful. Recently, surgical management is increasing and shows promise. We analyzed our experience to identify the benefits and complications of pulmonary resection in MDR pulmonary tuberculosis.

METHODS: A retrospective review was performed in 27 patients undergoing pulmonary resection for MDR pulmonary tuberculosis between January 1994 and March 1998. Their average ages were 40 years and were diagnosed a median of 15 months before surgery. All patients had resistance to an average of 4.4 drugs including isoniazid and rifampin, and had received second line drugs selected according to drug sensitivity test preoperatively. Most patients (92.6%) had cavitary lesions. Bilateral lesions were also identified in 19 patients (70.4%), but the main focus was recognized in one side of the lung. Most patients were indicated to operation for those who could not achieve negative sputum despite adequate medical treatment (n = 16, 59.3%); or for negative patients who had significant pulmonary parenchymal lesion (n = 11, 40.7%) which would have had a high probability of recurrence. Pneumonectomy was done in nine patients, lobectomy in 16 and segmentectomy in two.

RESULTS: There was no operative mortality. Morbidity occurred in seven patients (25.9%); prolonged air leakage in three patients, reoperation due to bleeding in two, bronchopleural fistula in one, and reversible blindness in one. The median follow up period was 15 months (range 3-45). Sputum negative conversion was achieved in 22 patients (81.5%) initially. However, continued postoperative chemotherapy could convert to negative in another four patients (14.8%). Only one pneumonectomy patient (3.7%) failed because of considerable contralateral cavity.

CONCLUSION: For patients with MDR pulmonary tuberculosis which is localized, and with adequate pulmonary reserve function, surgical pulmonary resection combined with appropriate pre and postoperative anti-tuberculosis chemotherapy can achieve high success rate with acceptable morbidity.

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