Management of empyema in children

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2005 Aug;40(2):148-56. doi: 10.1002/ppul.20251.


The incidence of empyema complicating community-acquired pneumonia is increasing and causes significant childhood morbidity. Pneumococcal infection remains the most common isolated cause in developed countries, with Staphylococcus aureus the predominant pathogen in the developing world. Newer molecular techniques utilizing the polymerase chain reaction have led to an increase in identification of causative bacteria, previously not isolated by conventional culture techniques. This remains an important epidemiological tool, and may help in guiding correct antibiotic use in the future. There are many treatment options, however, and the care a child currently receives is dependent on local practice, which is largely determined by availability of medical personnel and their preferences. Although there are many reported case series comparing treatment options, only two randomized controlled studies exist to guide treatment in children. There is an urgent need for this to be addressed, particularly with the introduction of relatively new surgical techniques such as video-assisted thorascopic surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Community-Acquired Infections
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Empyema / epidemiology
  • Empyema / etiology*
  • Empyema / physiopathology
  • Empyema / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pneumonia, Pneumococcal / complications*
  • Pneumonia, Staphylococcal / complications*
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted