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

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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