Postpneumonectomy Empyema: Results After the Clagett Procedure

Salman Zaheer, Mark S. Allen, Stephen D. Cassivi, Francis C. Nichols, Craig H. Johnson, Claude Deschamps, Peter C. Pairolero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this study was to analyze our experience with the management of patients with postpneumonectomy empyema treated by the Clagett procedure. Methods: Data were analyzed from our prospective database on 84 consecutive patients with postpneumonectomy empyema from July 1988 to June 2004. Results: There were 73 men and 11 women. Median age was 62 years (range, 35 to 77). Indications for pneumonectomy were malignancy in 77 patients and benign disease in 7. The pneumonectomy was done at our institution in 43 patients and elsewhere in 41. A right pneumonectomy was performed in 66 patients and a left in 18. All patients were managed with the Clagett procedure consisting of open pleural drainage, serial operative debridements, and eventual chest closure after filling the pleural cavity with antibiotic solution. A bronchopleural fistula was present in 55 patients and was closed in all. A muscle flap was used to reinforce the bronchial stump in 60 patients (71%), 51 with a bronchopleural fistula, and 9 without. Operative mortality was 7.1%. Median follow-up was 1.5 years (range, 0 to 22). Overall, 81% of patients had a healed chest wall without evidence of recurrent infection. The bronchopleural fistula remained closed in all patients. Median overall survival was 3.4 years with a 5-year survival of 44.5%. Age less than 65 years and an interval between pneumonectomy and empyema of greater than 15 weeks were independent predictors of improved long-term survival. Conclusions: The Clagett procedure remains safe and successful in the majority of patients with postpneumonectomy empyema. Age less than 65 years and a long interval between pneumonectomy and empyema are important determinants of outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-287
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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