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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 13 (2006), Issue 7, Pages 369-373
Original Article

Surgical Management of Acute Necrotizing Lung Infections

Beth Ann Reimel,1 Baiya Krishnadasen,1 Joseph Cuschieri,1 Matthew B Klein,1 Joel Gross,2 and Riyad Karmy-Jones1,3

1Department of Surgery, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, USA
2Department of Radiology, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, USA
3Department of Surgery, Southwest Washington Medical Center, Vancouver, Washington, USA

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Surgical resection for acute necrotizing lung infections is not widely accepted due to unclear indications and high risk.

OBJECTIVE: To review results of resection in the setting of acute necrotizing lung infections.

METHODS: A retrospective review of patients who underwent parenchymal resection between January 1, 2000, and January 1, 2006, for management of necrotizing pneumonia or lung gangrene.

RESULTS: Thirty-five patients underwent resection for lung necrosis. At the time of consultation, all patients presented with pulmonary sepsis, and also had the following: empyema (n=17), hemoptysis (n=5), air leak (n=7), septic shock requiring pressors (n=8) and inability to oxygenate adequately (n=7). Twenty-four patients were ventilated pre-operatively. Eleven patients had frank lobar gangrene, and the other patients had combinations of necrotizing pneumonia and abscesses. In 10 patients, preresection procedures were performed, including percutaneous drainage of an abscess (n=4), thoracoscopic decortication (n=4) and open decortication (n=2). Procedures included pneumonectomy (n=4), lobectomy (n=18), segmentectomy (n=2), wedge resection (n=4) and debridement (n=7). There were three (8.5%) postoperative deaths – two due to multiple organ failure and one due to anoxic brain injury. All patients not ventilated preoperatively were weaned from ventilatory support within three days. Of those ventilated preoperatively, three died, while four remained chronically ventilator dependent.

CONCLUSIONS: Surgical resection for necrotizing lung infections is a reasonable option in patients with persistent sepsis who are failing medical therapy. Ventilated patients have a worse prognosis but can still be candidates for resection. Patients who are hemodynamically unstable appear to have better outcomes if they can be stabilized before resection.