Treatment Optimization of Post-pneumonectomy Pleural Empyema

Folia Med (Plovdiv). 2019 Dec 31;61(4):500-505. doi: 10.3897/folmed.61.e47943.


Introduction: Pleural empyema after pneumonectomy still poses a serious postoperative complication. A bronchopleural fistula is often detected. Despite various therapeutic options developed during the last five decades it remains a major surgical challenge.

Results: There is no widely accepted treatment for post-pneumonectomy pleural empyema (PPE) and the management depends mostly on the presence or absence of broncho-pleural fistula (BPF) and the patient’s general condition. In the absence of BPF, the role of surgery is still not clear because of its high morbidity and impossibility to prevent recurrences. In the earlier period, the definitive treatment consisted of open window thoracostomy followed by obliteration of the pleural cavity with antibiotic solution at the time of chest wall closure. Subsequently, the proposed different methods and modifications improved the outcome. There is an association between hospital volume and operative mortality after the lung resection. Hospital volume and the surgeon’s specialty have more influence on the outcome than the individual surgeon’s volume.

Conclusions: Treatment management of PPE should be individualized. Definitive treatment options comprise aggressive surgery that is not possible in quite a high proportion of impaired patients. Hospital volume, surgeon’s volume and surgeon’s specialty may influence the prognosis.

Keywords: complications; pleural empyema; post-pneumonectomy; specific considerations; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Debridement
  • Empyema, Pleural / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Pneumonectomy / adverse effects*
  • Postoperative Complications / surgery*
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted