Awake Pleural Decortication for Empyema Thoracis
Pp. 141-154 (14)
Federico Tacconi and Eugenio Pompeo
Empyema thoracis is defined as the presence of purulent fluid within the pleural cavity.
Despite proper management is still debated, widespread agreement exists amongst thoracic surgeons
that an immediate surgery is more likely to result in favorable outcome than conservative treatment.
In recent years, the use of video-assisted thoracic surgery has gained acceptance as a valuable option in
this setting, since satisfactory re-expansion of the trapped lung can be achieved in more than 90% of
patients with a minimal surgical traumatism.
A further development in the field of minimally-invasive approach for empyema thoracis is represented
by the renewed interest in videothoracoscopic operations performed in spontaneous ventilating patients,
through local or locoregional anesthesia techniques. In our experience, awake videothoracoscopic
decortication performed under thoracic epidural anesthesia proven feasible and well tolerated in most
instances. In addition, conversion to thoracotomy was possible in more than 20% of patients without
switching to general anesthesia.
In this chapter, we focus on clinical and technical aspect of this novel surgical approach, which could
represent a reliable treatment tool especially in high-risk patients with early-stage empyema thoracis.
Empyema thoracis, VATS, thoracic epidural anesthesia.
Department of Thoracic Surgery, Policlinico Tor Vergata University, Rome, Italy.