Background Sloughing and gangrene of a complete lung are only very infrequently encountered complications of necrotizing pneumonia and fulminant pulmonary abscess formation. Thus far the role of emergent pneumonectomy is not established. Methods The outcome of patients who underwent anatomic lung resection for lung gangrene at 3 centers for thoracic surgery during the last 13 years was retrospectively analyzed. Only cases of necrotizing pneumonia were included whereas malignant lesions were excluded. Results Overall 44 patients were indentified (average age 56.3 years). Pulmonary sepsis (27 of 44), pleural empyema (29 of 44), persistent air leakage (14 of 44), and respiratory failure with mechanical ventilation (14 of 44) were present preoperatively. The mean Charlson comorbidity index was 2.77. Procedures were segmentectomy (7), lobectomy (26), and pneumonectomy (11). In-hospital mortality was 7 of 44; 2 following pneumonectomy and 5 after lobectomy. In comparing the pneumonectomy group with the lobectomy group we found no significant differences in age (p = 0.59), Charlson comorbidity index (p = 0.18), and postoperative mortality (p = 1). Charlson comorbidity index 3 or greater (odds ratio [OR], 8.41; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.88 to 421.71; p = 0.04), preoperative pleural empyema (OR, 3.56; 95% CI, 0.37 to 179.62; p = 0.39) and preoperative persistent air leak (OR, 7.34; 95% CI, 1.00 to 89.98; p = 0.02) were associated with higher risk for fatal outcome. Furthermore, patients with sepsis (p = 0.03) and patients sustaining acute renal failure (p = 0.04) had significantly higher mortality. Conclusions Pulmonary sepsis and its complications as well as preexisting comorbidity are the major reasons for fatal outcome, whereas the extent of surgical resection shows no significant influence. Emergent pneumonectomy as ultimate ratio is not only justified but also life saving. Further improvement seems achievable by earlier surgical intervention before the onset of pulmonary sepsis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine