Empyema Secondary to Pneumonia: Whom Should We Operate?

Daniel Lichtenstein, Vadim Smolyakov, Yael Refaely, Ibrahim Mashni, Li Or Lazar, Guy Pines

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Introduction: Empyema secondary to pneumonia is a common condition. A significant number of patients will require surgical intervention for drainage and decortication. The aim of this study was to identify predictive factors for surgical intervention. Materials and Methods: The medical records of patients who were diagnosed with empyema secondary to pneumonia between the years 2010 and 2019 in a university hospital were included in the study. Patients who underwent surgical intervention were defined as group A and nonoperative treatment as group B. Clinical and laboratory data were collected from medical records and patients’ chest computerized tomography (CT) scans were reviewed. Results: A total of 194 patients were included in the study—86 patients were included in group A and 108 patients in group B. Several parameters on admission were found to have a statistically significant correlation with surgical intervention: younger age, higher systolic blood pressure, and elevated white blood count. Multivariant analysis showed that younger age was found to have a statistically significant correlation with operative intervention (adjusted odds ratio = 0.971, P =.023). A statistically significant correlation between surgical intervention and survival (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 1.762, P =.046) and an inverse correlation between age and survival (adjusted HR = 0.050, P <.001) were found. Surgical intervention was associated with increased survival irrespective of age. A total of 42 CT scans were available for review. The mean density of the empyema fluid in group A was higher by 4.3 hounsfield units compared to group B (P <.067). Conclusions: Younger age was found to be associated with surgical intervention among patients suffering from empyema secondary to pneumonia. Surgical intervention was associated with increased long-term survival, irrespective of patients’ age. Several radiologic characteristics were associated with the need for surgery in this study: empyema fluid density, pleural thickening, and fluid loculations. Additional prospective studies are required to ascertain these results.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)214-218
    Number of pages5
    JournalJournal of Laparoendoscopic and Advanced Surgical Techniques - Part A
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024


    • decortication
    • empyema
    • imaging
    • prediction

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Surgery


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