Background: Lung abscesses commonly respond well to antibiotic therapy. In patients in whom conventional therapy fails, either percutaneous catheter drainage or surgical resection are usually considered, but are frequently problematic. This study describes our experience with endoscopic lung abscess drainage in patients in whom antibiotic therapy fails.
Methods: Patients in whom antibiotic therapy for lung abscess (enlarging cavity or lack of improvement of clinical status) was unsuccessful were considered candidates if an airway connection to the cavity was present. Treatment decisions were made in a multidisciplinary chest conference. Pigtail catheters were placed via a guidewire approach into the cavities. The abscesses were flushed twice daily with gentamycin solution. If fungal infection was suspected, once-daily amphotericin B was added to the regimen.
Results: Forty-two patients, from January 2000 to May 2002 (17 woman and 25 men) were included in this study (mean age, 48.9 years). Catheter placement was successful in 38 patients and led to successful therapy after a mean of 6.2 days of treatment (range, 3 to 21 days). Two patients required transient ventilation after catheter placement; there were no other complications.
Conclusions: Endoscopic lung abscess drainage in selected patients in whom antibiotic therapy fails is feasible and successful in experienced hands. This treatment represents an additional option for the chest physician other than percutaneous catheter drainage or surgical resection.