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Late-onset post-pneumonectomy empyema.
  1. W F Kerr

    Abstract

    Nine cases of empyema developing more than three months after pneumonectomy are presented. Diagnosis is difficult; with one exception, all the patients had been ill for at least three weeks and some for several months before the cause was discovered. In four, the radiological demonstration of gas in a previously opaque hemithorax led to the diagnosis. One of these had a bronchial fistula, two had oesophageal fistulae, and one had both. The remaining patients had no fistulae and the diagnoses were not made until empyema necessitatis had developed. Two from this group yielded pure cultures of pneumococci and one a pure culture of Streptococcus viridans. Except for one patient admitted moribund, all were treated in the first instance by rib resection and open drainage without tubes and all survived. Four of the five without fistulae subsequently had their drainage sinuses successfully closed after the infection of the chest wall had cleared. The belief that a pneumonectomy space normally becomes obliterated is challenged. The history and mode of onset of some of these cases suggested that infection of the residual fluid was bloodborne.

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