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[Successful treatment of thoracic drainage using urokinase for empyema in an elderly man].

Author(s): Kashizaki F, Teramoto S

Affiliation(s): Department of Pulmonary Diseases, National Hospital Organization, Tokyo National Hospital.

Publication date & source: 2010, Nihon Ronen Igakkai Zasshi., 47(6):627-33.

Publication type: Case Reports; English Abstract

A 76-year-old man was admitted to our hospital because of progressive dyspnea, fever, and consciousness disturbance. Empyema was diagnosed by chest image findings and laboratory findings of pleural effusion and serum. The patient was first given an antimicrobial agent, and chest drainage was performed. Although his general condition improved, his systemic inflammation and chest radiograph findings did not. Then, thoracoscopy under local anesthesia was considered. However, surgery was almost impossible, because he was hemiparetic, with mild conscious disturbance following cerebral hemorrhage. We decided to insert another drain into the thoracic cavity and continued to perform irrigation with saline in addition to the systemic administration of antibiotics for 3 weeks. His general condition gradually improved. Although the volume of drained fluid from the thoracic cavity decreased, the empyema lesions did not completely disappear. We then performed irrigation with saline and urokinase for 3 days, from the 40th hospital day. Irrigation drainage using saline was more effective than previously, before urokinase administration; his symptoms and empyema lesions markedly improved without antibiotics treatment. He was discharged on the 95th hospital day. For the treatment of chronic emypema, surgery using recently developed thoracoscopic techniques should be considered first, but may not be appropriate for frail elderly with severe systemic complications. Conventional intrathoracic irrigation using saline containing urokinase may be a treatment of choice for intractable empyema in frail older patients with hemiplegia caused by cerebral infarction.

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