Pulmonary resection for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2001 Mar;121(3):448-53. doi: 10.1067/mtc.2001.112339.


Objectives: Mycobacterium tuberculosis continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Complacency by the medical profession and by patients has caused a new strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to emerge that is highly resistant to current antibiotics. The possibility of a new worldwide epidemic of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis is of concern. Optimal therapy for patients infected with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis often requires surgical intervention to eradicate the infection. We report on our experience with pulmonary resection for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

Methods: During a 17-year period, 172 patients underwent 180 pulmonary resections. All patients had multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and had a minimum of 3 months of medical therapy before surgery. Muscle flaps were frequently used to avoid residual space and bronchial stump problems.

Results: During the study period, 98 lobectomies and 82 pneumonectomies were performed. Eight patients underwent multiple procedures. Operative mortality was 3.3% (6/180). Three patients died of respiratory failure, 2 patients died of a cerebrovascular accident, and 1 patient had a myocardial infarction. Late mortality was 6.8% (11/166). Significant morbidity was 12% (20/166). One half (91) of the patients had positive sputum at the time of surgery. After the operation, the sputum remained positive in only 4 (2%) patients. Mean length of follow-up was 7.6 years (range 4-204 months).

Conclusions: Surgery remains an important adjunct to medical therapy for the treatment of multi-drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In the setting of localized disease, persistent sputum positivity, or patient intolerance of medical therapy, pulmonary resection should be undertaken. Pulmonary resection for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis can be performed with acceptable operative morbidity and mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pneumonectomy*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / surgery*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / surgery*