June 1991

Timing of Invasive Procedures in Therapy for Primary and Secondary Spontaneous Pneumothorax

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Internal Medicine, Medical Intensive Care Unit, University Hospital (Kantonsspital), Basel, Switzerland.

Arch Surg. 1991;126(6):764-766. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1991.01410300110017

• Timing of invasive procedures during chest tube therapy in spontaneous pneumothorax is undefined. Evaluation of 115 patients with primary and secondary spontaneous pneumothorax treated with tube thoracostomy revealed nearly maximal healing rates after 48 hours without a relevant increase if drainage was maintained for up to 10 days. In secondary spontaneous pneumothorax, a significantly lower healing rate was observed after 48 hours compared with primary spontaneous pneumothorax (60% vs 82%). Therapeutic success was not predictable by single clinical variables available at admission (eg, age, gender, and smoking habits) nor by their combinations. Recurrence rates were 30% in both primary and secondary spontaneous pneumothorax. Hospital stay averaged 6 days in primary and 15 days in secondary spontaneous pneumothorax. Considering their efficacy and the low incidence of complications, the early use of invasive procedures such as surgical pleurectomy, after 48 hours of persistent gas leaking, seems justified. Shorter in-patient care and lower recurrence rates may result.

(Arch Surg. 1991;126:764-766)