April 1973

Surgical Therapy of Empyema in Children

Author Affiliations

Columbus, Ohio
From the Department of Surgery, Division of Thoracic Surgery, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus.

Arch Surg. 1973;106(4):564-567. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1973.01350160176030

Pleural empyema was diagnosed in 69 infants and children over a ten-year period (1960 to 1970). In 52 of 69 cases, a specific organism was recovered by culture or gram stain of the pleural fluid. Staphylococcus organisms were the etiologic agent in 75% of these cases. Seven patients were treated by thoracocentesis alone. Closed-tube drainage and/or rib resection was done in 62 patients. An indicated decortication was done for three patients. The overall mortality was 7% with a 3.2% mortality since 1963 when staphylococcal specific antibiotics were introduced. Pleural empyema in infants and children can be well treated by adequate tube drainage and appropriate antibiotic therapy with a low morbidity and mortality, and pleural decortication is only rarely indicated in this age group.