Contemporary surgical management of thoracic empyema

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Hospital Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Bacterial Infections and Mycoses | Diagnosis | Pathological Conditions, Signs and Symptoms | Respiratory Tract Diseases | Surgery | Surgical Procedures, Operative | Therapeutics


In the USA, one million patients diagnosed with pneumonia are admitted each year and among these, 32,000 patients develop empyema (1,2). Empyema is associated with a high morbidity and mortality (2,3).

Empyema was first described by Hippocrates 2,400 years ago. He also performed the first pleural drainage when he created a burr hole to drain the infected fluids and performed daily irrigation (4).

Thoracic empyema is defined as either presence of bacterial organisms and/or presence of grossly purulent fluid in the pleural cavity. A positive culture is not required for diagnosis of patients previously on antibiotics. As well, in the case when a sampling was taken of the inflammatory fluid from around the infected empyema fluid, or in anaerobic bacterial infections which are difficult to be cultured.

DOI of Published Version



J Thorac Dis. 2018 Sep;10(Suppl 26):S3069-S3070. doi: 10.21037/jtd.2018.08.55. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of thoracic disease

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID