Complication of antiquated tuberculosis treatment

Respir Med Case Rep. 2014 Aug 12;13:12. doi: 10.1016/j.rmcr.2014.07.001. eCollection 2014.


In the early 20th century, the rapid spread of tuberculosis (TB) invited novel therapies for treatment. A surgical procedure known as plombage was one such method where lobes were forced to collapse by placing an inert object such as mineral oil, paraffin wax, gauze or Lucite (methyl methacylate) balls. The collapse would lead to isolation of TB infection and decrease aeration of the affected lung. Removal of these objects had initially been, usually after 24 months, however this fell out of favor after the patient had recovered without commonly seen late complications. Decades later, reports have been made illustrating complications such as migration and infection of the plombe as well as expanding oleothorax.

Keywords: Oleothorax; Plombage; Staphylococcus lugdunensis; Tuberculosis.