Background: Bullectomy for primary spontaneous pneumothorax has been associated with high postoperative recurrence rates when video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) has been used rather than thoracotomy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and identify the disadvantages, if any, of adding pleurodesis to VATS bullectomy to prevent recurrent pneumothorax.
Methods: Fifty-three patients who underwent VATS bullectomy with additional pleurodesis for pneumothorax after November 1996 and 50 who underwent VATS bullectomy alone before October 1996 were compared retrospectively in terms of intraoperative factors and postoperative chest pain, pulmonary function, and pneumothorax recurrent rates. Pleurodesis was achieved by electrocauterizing the upper surface of the parietal pleura in a patchy fashion.
Results: There were no significant differences between the additional pleurodesis group and the bullectomy alone group in terms of age, sex, operating time, intraoperative bleeding, number of resected bullae, duration of chest drainage, or volume of fluid drained. Postoperative chest pain and pulmonary function were also similar in both groups. A recurrent pneumothorax occurred in one patient (1.9%) in the additional pleurodesis group; this recurrence rate was significantly lower than that for the bullectomy alone group (eight patients, 16%; p = 0.029). Although the mean postoperative follow-up period was considerably shorter in the additional pleurodesis group (38 months [range, 26-49]) than in the bullectomy alone group (63 months [range, 50-72] ), eight (89%) of all nine recurrences occurred within 26 months of surgery-i.e., within the minimum follow-up period for the additional pleurodesis group.
Conclusions: Pleurodesis is a minimally invasive technique that is effective in preventing postoperative recurrences of pneumothorax when added to VATS bullectomy. Additional pleurodesis has no disadvantages vs bullectomy alone in terms of worsening postoperative chest pain or pulmonary function.