Study objective: To evaluate the role of intrapleural fibrinolytic treatment (IPFT) in traumatic clotted hemothorax.
Design and patients: Between August 1995 and February 1997, 24 patients with traumatic clotted hemothorax were included. Streptokinase (SK), 250,000 IU, or urokinase (UK), 100,000 IU, diluted in 100 mL of saline solution was given daily. We administered 5.0±1.8 (range, 2 to 9) doses of SK or 6.25±5.97 (range, 2 to 15) doses of UK.
Setting: Dicle University School of Medicine, Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Department.
Results: Complete response, which was defined as resolution of symptoms with complete drainage of fluid and no residual space radiographically, occurred in 15 (62.5%) patients. Partial response, which was defined as resolution of symptoms with a small pleural cavity, occurred in seven (29.2%) patients. Two patients (8.3%) required decortication; they were defined as nonresponders. The mean period of time between the diagnosis and fibrinolytic treatment (FT) was 11.65±6.38 (range, 4 to 25) days. There were no complications related to IPFT. There was no mortality during the course of IPFT.
Conclusion: The use of intrapleural fibrinolytic agents has resulted in resolution of clotted hemothorax with an overall success rate of 91.7%. We recommend that IPFT should be added to the algorithm for management of clotted hemothorax before proceeding with minithoracotomy or pleural decortication.