Interventional management of pleural infections

John E Heffner, Jeffrey S Klein, Christopher Hampson
Chest 2009, 136 (4): 1148-1159
Pleural infections represent an important group of disorders that is characterized by the invasion of pathogens into the pleural space and the potential for rapid progression to frank empyema. Previous epidemiologic studies have indicated that empyema is increasing in prevalence, which underscores the importance of urgent diagnosis and effective drainage to improve clinical outcomes. Unfortunately, limited evidence exists to guide clinicians in selecting the ideal drainage intervention for a specific patient because of the broad variation that exists in the intrapleural extent of infection, presence of locules, comorbid features, respiratory status, and virulence of the underlying pathogen. Moreover, many patients experience delays in both the recognition of infected pleural fluid and the initiation of appropriate measures to drain the pleural space. The present review provides an update on the pathogenesis and interventional therapy of pleural infections with an emphasis on the unique role of image-guided drainage with small-bore catheters.

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