21 October 2016
This retrospective study analyzed the effectiveness of intrathoracic negative pressure therapy for debilitated patients with empyema and compared the short-term and long-term outcomes of three different intrapleural vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) techniques.
We investigated 43 consecutive (pre)septic patients with poor general condition (Karnofsky index ≤ 50 %) and multimorbidity (≥ 3 organ diseases) or immunosuppression, who had been treated for primary, postoperative, or recurrent pleural empyema with VAC in combination with open window thoracostomy (OWT-VAC) with minimally invasive technique (Mini-VAC), and instillation (Mini-VAC-Instill).
The overall duration of intrathoracic vacuum therapy was 14 days (5–48 days). Vacuum duration in the Mini-VAC and Mini-VAC-Instill groups (12.4 ± 5.7 and 10.4 ± 5.4 days) was significantly shorter ( p = 0.001) than in the group treated with open window thoracostomy (OWT)-VAC (20.3 ± 9.4 days). No major complication was related to intrathoracic VAC therapy. Chest wall closure rates were significantly higher in the Mini-VAC and Mini-VAC-Instill groups than in the OWT-VAC group ( p = 0.034 and p = 0.026). Overall, the mean postoperative length of stay in hospital (LOS) was 21 days (median 18, 6–51 days). LOS was significantly shorter ( p = 0.027) in the Mini-VAC-Instill group (15.1 ± 4.8) than in the other two groups (23.8 ± 12.3 and 22.7 ± 1.5). Overall, the 30-day and 60-day mortality rates were 4.7 % (2/43) and 9.3 % (4/43), and none of the deaths was related to infection.