Objective: To compare the efficacy of adjunctive intrapleural streptokinase (SK) with simple closed chest tube drainage (Drain) in the treatment of empyemas and complicated parapneumonic effusions.
Method: This was a controlled study of 52 patients (mean age, 57 years; 41 men) with pleura space sepsis. Forty patients (77%) had empyema and 12 had complicated parapneumonic effusions. Twenty-nine patients were treated with Drain only while 23 received, in addition, repeated daily SK, 250,000 U in saline solution (mean, 5.3 days).
Results: The two groups of patients had comparable degrees of peripheral blood leukocytosis, frequency of loculated effusions, pleural fluid pH, and lactate dehydrogenase levels. Infective organisms were isolated in 54% of which 32% were anaerobic and 21% were polymicrobial infections. The incidence of surgical decortication was 17% and mortality was 15%. A significantly larger volume of pleural fluid was drained from patients in the SK treatment group (2.0 [1.5] L) than those in the Drain treatment group (1.0 [1.01] L). There were no significant differences, however, between the two treatment groups in terms of duration before defervescence, duration of hospital stay, the need for surgical intervention, or mortality rates.
Conclusion: We conclude that thrombolytic therapy increased the volume of fluid drained from pleural empyemas but did not markedly reduce morbidity and mortality.