Postpneumonectomy empyema

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2002 Jul;8(4):327-33. doi: 10.1097/00063198-200207000-00015.


Empyema is a serious complication after pneumonectomy. It is often associated with a bronchopleural fistula. Several risk factors have been associated with an increased incidence of these two challenging complications. Therapy aims at simultaneously treating the infected pleural space and the fistula. The authors describe their favorite methods which include repeated open debridements of the pleural space, primary closure of the fistula, and covering of the bronchial stump using intrathoracic transposition of extrathoracic skeletal muscle followed by delayed closure of the chest wall after instillation of an antibiotic solution (Clagett and modified Clagett procedures). The goals of treatment remain a healthy patient with a healed chest wall and no evidence of drainage or infection. Excellent results can be obtained in more than 80% of patients. Failure is often associated with a persistent or recurrent bronchopleural fistula.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Debridement
  • Drainage
  • Empyema, Pleural / etiology
  • Empyema, Pleural / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Pneumonectomy*
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Thoracic Surgical Procedures