Management of pleural space infections: A population-based analysis

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Management options for pleural space infections have changed over the last 2 decades. This study evaluated trends over time in the incidence of disease and use of different management strategies and their associated outcomes.


A retrospective study was performed by using a statewide administrative database of all hospitalizations for pleural space infections between 1987 and 2004.


Four thousand four hundred twenty-four patients (age, 57.1 ± 18.6 years; 67% male; comorbidity index, 1.1 ± 1.9) were hospitalized with pleural space infections. The incidence rate increased 2.8% per year (95% confidence interval, 2.2%–3.4%; P < .001). Overall, 51.6% of patients underwent an operation, and the proportion increased from 42.4% in 1987 to 58.4% in 2004 (P < .001). The risk of death within 30 days was less for patients undergoing operations compared with that for patients not undergoing operations (5.4% vs 16.6%, P < .001); however, patients undergoing operations were younger (52.9 ± 17.6 years vs 61.5 ± 18.6 years, P < .001) and had a lower comorbidity index (0.8 ± 1.6 vs 1.4 ± 2.1, P < .001). After adjusting for age, sex, comorbidity index, and insurance status, patients undergoing operative therapy had a 58% lower risk of death (odds ratio, 0.42; 95% confidence interval, 0.32–0.56; P < .001) than those undergoing nonoperative management.


The incidence of pleural space infections and the proportion of patients undergoing operative management have increased over time. Patients undergoing operations were younger and had less comorbid illness than those not undergoing operations but had a much lower risk of early death, even after adjusting for these factors.

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