Contemporary outcomes of surgical management of complex thoracic infections

Ian C. Bostock, Fariha Sheikh, Timothy M. Millington, David J. Finley, Joseph D. Phillips


Background: Surgery plays an important role in the management of complex thoracic infections (CTIs). We aimed to describe the contemporary surgical outcomes of CTIs.
Methods: The 2014–2017 National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database was queried for patients with the following procedures: bilobectomy, decortication, lung release, lobectomy, thoracoscopic lobectomy, thoracoscopic pleurodesis, thoracoscopic wedge resection, thoracoscopic biopsy, thoracoscopy, thoracotomy, thoracotomy with wedge resection, thoracotomy with decortication, and thoracotomy with lobectomy. Patients were classified into: drainage procedures (DP) and lung resection (LR). Descriptive statistics and univariate/multivariate analysis were executed. A P value <0.05 was considered significant.
Results: A total of 1,275 patients (30.3%) underwent surgical management for a CTI. Nine hundred and seven patients (71.1%) underwent a DP, and 368 patients (28.9%) underwent a LR. A thoracic surgeon performed 64% and 79% of cases in the DP and LR groups, respectively. On univariate analysis, the patients in the LR group were less likely to be male, diabetic, active smokers, dyspneic on exertion, hypertensive, malnourished, or American Society of Anesthesiologist (ASA) >3. There was no difference in overall postoperative complications, re-intubation, or reoperation between groups. The patients in the LR group were less likely to develop sepsis or respiratory failure. There was no difference in 30-day mortality between groups (5.3% vs. 3.8%, P=0.26). The total length of stay was 13.82±10.17 and 8.7±15.05 days, in the DP and LR groups, respectively (P=0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed increased risk of 30-day mortality was associated with age, preoperative steroid use, renal failure, leukocytosis, pulmonary embolism, and sepsis.
Conclusions: CTI’s are a common indication for thoracic surgical management. This contemporary, national sampling demonstrates that approximately one third of identified cases were associated with a LR. These cases demonstrated a comparable morbidity and mortality with surgical DP, but shorter hospital stays. To aid in the management of these complex disease processes, early consultation of a multidisciplinary management service for these patients should be considered. Furthermore, the appropriate use of LR for infectious etiologies may lead to safer postoperative outcomes than previously thought.