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Current Surgical Management of Empyema Thoracis in Children: A Single-center Experience

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Empyema is a morbid complication of pneumonia in children, whose gold standard of surgical treatment technique remains undefined. Historically, treatment consisted of open thoracotomy with decortication. We evaluate the effectiveness and safety of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) as a surgical treatment in for empyema thoracis in a pediatric population at a single institution from 2005 to 2013. After receiving Institutional Review Board approval, we performed a retrospective chart review of children surgically treated for empyema as a complication of pneumonia from 2005 to 2013. Charts were reviewed for the type of procedure performed (VATS or open thoracotomy), comorbid conditions, preoperative status, operative outcomes, and postoperative status. A total of 112 pediatric patients were treated surgically for empyema. Surgical treatment consisted of VATS in all cases; no open thoracotomy procedures were performed. The success rate of VATS in our study was 96.4 per cent. Mean total length of stay was found to be 8.8 days, whereas postoperative length of stay was 6.3 days. Mean postoperative chest tube duration was 3.4 days. Perioperative complication rate was 11.6 per cent, with respiratory failure being the most common complication. The data from our study demonstrate that the exclusive use of VATS in children for the surgical management of all stages of empyema was safe and produced results with high efficacy. We consider VATS to be the new gold standard for surgical drainage of empyema.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2015

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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