Study objectives: Present the feature characteristics of the use and findings of thoracoscopy in children and adolescents.
Design: From February 1983 to February 1996, 77 thoracoscopic procedures were done on patients ranging in ages from 5 months to 18 years (mean, 9.8 years). Two-thirds (66.2%) were male. They were divided into three groups (1, 2, and 3) based on age (up to 2, from 2 to 8, and older than 8 years), predominance of certain diseases in these ages, and the size of the instruments utilized. They were operated on using general anesthesia with Carlens' mediastinoscope routinely used in 64 (83%) and videothoracoscopy in 13 (17%). The chief indication for therapeutic thoracoscopy was treatment of empyema, while for diagnostic thoracoscopy it was pleural biopsy and diagnosis of pleural effusions.
Results: In group 1, thoracoscopy was solely for the treatment of pleural disorders. In group 2, it was for the treatment of pleuropulmonary diseases. Group 3 behaved almost like adults, with broad diagnostic and therapeutic indications for thoracoscopic procedure.
Conclusions: Thoracoscopy, which is a useful diagnostic and therapeutic procedure, has secured an important place in pediatric surgical practice.