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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 51-58

Management of parapneumonic effusion and empyema

Military Hospital, Namkum, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India

Correspondence Address:
Lt. Col. Santosh Kumar Singh
Classified Specialist (MD) in Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Medical Division, Military Hospital, Namkum, Ranchi 834010
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jacp.jacp_24_18

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Parapneumonic effusions are pleural effusions that occur in the pleural space adjacent to a bacterial pneumonia. When bacteria invade the pleural space, a complicated parapneumonic effusion or empyema may result. Empyema is collection of pus in pleural cavity. If left untreated, complicated parapneumonic effusion/empyema leads to chronic encasement and pleural thickening. Simple parapneumonic effusions can be managed conservatively with appropriate antibiotics, but complicated parapneumonic effusions often require some kind of drainage along with antibiotics. Delay in treatment is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Clinically it is diagnosed with persistent fever, stony dull tender percussion, and absent breath sounds. Majority of cases are due to anaerobic infection. Gram-positive as well as Gram-negative organisms are also implicated. Many cases may have mixed organisms. Tuberculosis should be suspected if no organism is grown in empyema. Chest skiagram, thoracic ultrasound, and CT scan help in localization of effusion and detection of loculations. Confirmation is done by thoracocentesis and pleural fluid analysis, which shows exudate with polymorphonuclear leukocytosis. Management includes well-selected antibiotics and drainage by tube thoracostomy. Intrapleural fibrinolytics have been used in multiloculated complicated parapneumonic effusions with success. Advent of thoracoscopy and VATS has left very few cases requiring surgical decortication. Properly treated parapneumonic effusions have good prognosis.

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