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Thoracoscopic Decortication of Stage III Tuberculous Empyema Is Effective and Safe in Selected Cases

Arvind Kumar, Belal B Asaf, Vijay C Lingaraju, Sai Yendamuri, Mohan V Pulle, Jayashree Sood
Annals of Thoracic Surgery 2017, 104 (5): 1688-1694

BACKGROUND: Open decortication of advanced tuberculous empyema remains standard of care. As with other aspects of thoracic surgery, minimally invasive approaches are making inroads into procedures traditionally performed open. In this retrospective analysis, we sought to examine feasibility, efficacy, and outcomes of thoracoscopic decortication of stage III tuberculous empyema in our experience.

METHODS: The records of all patients in whom thoracoscopic decortication of stage III tuberculous empyema was performed between March 2012 and December 2015 were examined. Demographic and perioperative data were analyzed to assess the surgical outcomes of this study group. To assess long-term efficacy, patients were followed for a minimum of 6 months.

RESULTS: One hundred patients fit the study criteria, of these 67 were men. Ninety cases were successfully completed thoracoscopically. Mean operative time was 204 ± 34.2 minutes with mean blood loss of 384 ± 28 mL. Median chest drain duration and hospital stay was 7 days. There was no perioperative deaths. Morbidity rate was 33%, composed mostly of prolonged air leak (29%). Six-month follow-up revealed completely expanded lung in all patients except one with small apical asymptomatic air space. Intraoperative cultures were positive for mycobacteria in 25% patients. Six (6%) of these patients had multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and required a modification in their antituberculous therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: Thoracoscopic decortication of advanced tuberculous empyema is feasible, safe, and effective with good short- and long-term results in selected patients. In a substantial portion of patients, operative cultures required modifying drug treatment to treat underlying tuberculosis.

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