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Optimal timing of video-assisted thoracic surgery for acute pyothorax: a retrospective study



Although the value of video-assisted thoracic surgery for acute pyothorax is becoming widely recognized, the optimal timing of surgery has not been established. Therefore, we aimed to determine the optimal timing of video-assisted thoracic surgery in acute pyothorax.


We retrospectively reviewed 38 consecutive video-assisted thoracic surgeries performed for acute pyothorax between January 2013 and December 2017 at our institution. Data were analyzed using the independent samples t test and Mann–Whitney U test. A receiver-operating characteristic curve was used to identify the optimal time for intervention.


The average time from disease onset to surgery was 17.9 days, and the average preoperative drainage period was 8.3 days. The operation was completed in all patients with video-assisted thoracic surgery curettage and drainage under general anesthesia; single lung ventilation was administered, and one or two thoracic drains were placed. The average postoperative drainage period was 10.8 days. Intraoperative complications were observed in two cases; no perioperative death occurred. Additional surgery was performed in four cases because of poor treatment response. There was no recurrence of pyothorax over a mean postoperative follow-up period of 42.5 months. A receiver-operating characteristic curve showed that the cut-off time from disease onset to surgery was 21.0 days; complication rates were 14.3% and 25.0% for patients operated on before and after 21 days, respectively.


Thoracoscopic surgery for acute pyothorax is safe and curative, and should be performed within 21 days of disease onset to avoid postoperative complications.

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The authors wish to thank Dr. Mariko Itsubo for her comments on an earlier version of this paper. The authors would like to thank EDITAGE for proofreading this paper.

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Correspondence to Takashi Ohtsuka.

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Matsudaira, H., Arakawa, S., Noda, Y. et al. Optimal timing of video-assisted thoracic surgery for acute pyothorax: a retrospective study. Gen Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 69, 1476–1481 (2021).

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  • Thoracic surgery
  • Pyothorax
  • Retrospective study
  • Video-assisted surgery