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Outcomes of Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgical Decortication in 274 Patients with Tuberculous Empyema

Baofu Chen, Jian Zhang, Zhongrui Ye, Minhua Ye, Dehua Ma, Chunguo Wang, Chengchu Zhu
Annals of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 2015, 21 (3): 223-8

OBJECTIVE: The present work aimed to retrospectively assess the outcomes associated with decortication by video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) in patients with tuberculous empyema.

METHODS: Patients (n = 274) who underwent decortication by VATS for surgical management of pleural empyema between January 2000 to 2010 were included. Pre-, intra-, and postoperative characteristics were observed for all patients, which were followed up for 12 months to evaluate surgical outcomes such as postoperative complications and disease recurrence.

RESULTS: No patients required conversion to thoracotomy, and no death or postoperative bleeding was reported. The mean operation time was 104.5 ± 20.4 min, with 271.5 ± 41.3 ml intraoperative blood loss and median length of hospital stay of 7.2 ± 3 .4 days. Of the 274 patients, 262 were followed up for 12 months; 26 (9.9%) patients showed complications, including incomplete lung re-expansion (11 patients) and persistent air leak (6 patients). While early disease recurrence was observed in 3 (1.1%) patients after surgery, late recurrence was reported for 6 (2.3%) individuals. Interestingly, the complication rate was much higher in patients with chronic empyema (15/34, 44.1%) than in subjects with acute empyema (11/228, 4.8%).

CONCLUSIONS: Decortication by VATS decreases postsurgical complications, and results in decreased disease recurrence. This study demonstrated improved outcomes by decortication by VATS, even in patients with stage III tuberculous empyema.

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