Surgery for pulmonary tuberculosis

World J Surg. 1997 Jun;21(5):457-67. doi: 10.1007/pl00012270.


During the period 1990-1994 a total of 578 operations were performed in 502 patients with various forms of tuberculosis. Most of the patients (68%) were men aged 20 to 50 years (70%). Sputum cultures were positive in 55% of the patients. More than half of all patients were chronic smokers, and about 10% were alcoholics or drug addicts. There were no human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients, and none with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The most frequent surgical interventions were, according to the classification adopted in Russia, for cavernous or fibrocavernous tuberculosis (196 cases) and tuberculomas (161 cases). The main operative procedures used were pulmonary resection (n = 280) and pneumonectomy or pleuropneumonectomy (n = 80). Diseased intrathoracic lymph nodes were ablated in 62 patients. Thoracoplasty or thoracomyoplasty were performed in 46 cases, thoracostomy in 37, closure of a thoracic wall defect in 27, and reamputation of the main bronchial stump in 6. Postoperative complications arose in 20% of the patients. More than half occurred in the pleural cavity or bronchi and were associated with tuberculous infection. The postoperative hospital case-fatality rate was 2%. The overall clinical efficacy by the time of discharge was 82.7% (95% in tuberculomas). Reactivation of tuberculosis over the first 3 years after discharge occurred in 6.6% of the patients. Most patients with large or multiple caverns, tuberculomas, intrathoracic caseous lymphadenitis, or various complications of pulmonary tuberculosis cannot be cured (or are not amenable to care in principle) by means of antibacterial therapy because of irreversible morphologic changes in the lungs, bronchi, pleura, lymph nodes, or thoracic wall. For this reason, indications for surgical management of pulmonary tuberculosis should be generally expanded. Excessively long antibacterial therapy for tuberculosis is often inadvisable. Although the availability of standardized regimens of antibacterial therapy is strategically essential, each patient must be treated according to an individual plan. In certain cases thoracic surgeons should be enlisted to participate in the development of such plans.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonectomy / adverse effects
  • Prognosis
  • Registries
  • Reoperation
  • Russia
  • Survival Rate
  • Thoracic Surgery / classification
  • Thoracic Surgery / methods*
  • Thoracotomy / methods
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / mortality
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / surgery*