Introduction: Primary spontaneous pneumothorax is a condition that carries significant morbidities and mortalities if not managed properly. Thoracotomy with bullectomy has been the treatment of choice for persistent air leak or recurrence after initial chest drain insertion. With the advancement in minimal invasive surgery, the thoracoscopic approach can dramatically reduce the complications of open thoracotomy. We review our experience in managing spontaneous pneumothorax in children using thoracoscopy.
Materials and methods: The medical records of all patients who were discharged with the diagnosis of spontaneous pneumothorax from 1997 to 2007 were reviewed. The demographic data and management were noted. For those patients who underwent thoracoscopic surgery, the intra-operative findings, post-operative outcomes and complications were compared.
Results: A total of 15 patients with spontaneous pneumothorax were identified. They all received chest drain insertion as the primary treatment modality. Nine patients, with mean age 16.1 +/- 0.9 years, failed the initial management and subsequently received thoracoscopic surgery with a mean interval of 7.6 +/- 2.5 days after initial chest drain insertion. Among these patients, bullae were found in seven patients (two patients had more than one bulla). The bullae were excised with mean operative time being 63.9 +/- 25.2 min. No conversion to thoracotomy was reported. All patients received paracetamol as pain control and there was no associated complication. No recurrence was found at follow-up till now.
Conclusion: This study confirms that the presence of bulla is commonly seen in patients with spontaneous pneumothorax who fail initial management. Thoracoscopic bullectomy, a safe and effective operation, should be offered to this group of patients.