Thoracoscopy in the management of pediatric empyema

J Pediatr Surg. 1995 Aug;30(8):1211-5. doi: 10.1016/0022-3468(95)90025-x.


The surgical management of empyema consists of (1) aggressive therapy with thoracotomy and decortication or (2) conservative treatment with chest tube drainage and intravenous antibiotics. Recently, Kern and Rodgers introduced thoracoscopic debridement as an adjunct to the management of children with empyema, with promising results. Hence, the authors report their experience with thoracoscopy in the management of pediatric patients with empyema. In the last years, 10 children have undergone thoracoscopic debridement (TD) for empyema. The average age was 6.9 years (range, 2 to 16). Children underwent TD an average of 14 days (range, 8 to 16) after initial presentation and 4 days (range, 2 to 6) after admission to the authors' hospital. Indications for TD were persistent requirement of supplemental oxygen and failure of conservative medical management that consisted of antibiotics and tube thoracostomy. Three children had positive pleural fluid cultures for Streptococcus pneumoniae. In all cases, preoperative ultrasound or chest computed tomography examination showed dense pleural fluid with septation. During surgery, TD allowed for lung expansion and precise chest tube placement in all patients except one who required conversion to minithoracotomy and decortication for persistent encasement with a thick pleural peel. There were no postoperative complications related to the procedure. After TD, all children had prompt clinical improvement. The patients were weaned from supplemental oxygen by postoperative day 2, and following early chest tube removal, nine children were discharged home by postoperative day 7 (range, 3 to 10). One child required further hospitalization for underlying renal failure. In the authors' hands, TD was effective in producing prompt clinical improvement in children with empyema.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chest Tubes
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Debridement
  • Empyema, Pleural / drug therapy
  • Empyema, Pleural / microbiology
  • Empyema, Pleural / surgery*
  • Empyema, Pleural / therapy
  • Endoscopy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Patient Admission
  • Patient Discharge
  • Pleura / surgery
  • Pleural Effusion / diagnostic imaging
  • Pleural Effusion / microbiology
  • Pneumonia, Pneumococcal / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumonia, Pneumococcal / surgery
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / isolation & purification
  • Thoracoscopy*
  • Thoracostomy / instrumentation
  • Thoracotomy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Failure
  • Ultrasonography


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents