Video-assisted thoracic surgery for the management of pyothorax in dogs: 14 cases

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To report the perioperative findings and outcome of dogs undergoing video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) for the management of pyothorax.


Multi-institutional, retrospective study.


Client-owned dogs (n = 14).


Medical records of dogs with pyothorax managed via VATS were reviewed for signalment, history, clinical signs, clinicopathological findings, diagnostic imaging results, surgical variables, bacterial culture and sensitivity results, post-operative management and outcome. VATS was performed after placing a paraxyphoid endoscopic portal and 2-3 intercostal instrument portals. VATS exploration was followed by one or more of the following: mediastinal debridement, tissue sampling, pleural lavage, and placement of a thoracostomy tube.


Two dogs (14%) required conversion from VATS to an open thoracotomy to completely resect proliferative mediastinal tissue. These dogs had severe pleural effusion on preoperative thoracic radiographs and one had severely thickened contrast-enhancing mediastinum on preoperative computed tomography (CT). The cause of pyothorax was identified as a penetrating gastric foreign body (n = 2), migrating plant material (n = 2), and idiopathic (n = 10). The median follow-up time was 143 days (range, 14-2402 days). All dogs were discharged from the hospital and their clinical signs resolved. One patient had recurrence of a pyothorax requiring revision surgery 17 months postoperatively.


VATS allows minimally invasive treatment of uncomplicated canine pyothorax. Preoperative thoracic CT may help identify candidates for VATS among dogs with pyothorax.

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