The role of surgery in hemoptysis caused by thoracic actinomycosis; a forgotten disease

Lu, Ming-Shian; Liu, Hui-Ping; Yeh, Chi-Hsiao; Wu, Yi-Cheng; Liu, Yun-Hen; Hsieh, Ming-Ju; Chen, Tzu-Ping
November 2003
European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery;Nov2003, Vol. 24 Issue 5, p694
Academic Journal
Objective: Thoracic actinomycosis is a relatively uncommon anaerobic infection caused by Actinomyces israelii. Rarely, it may be complicated by an unusual but significant hemoptysis manifestation. We describe our experiences of surgical treatment for hemoptysis in patients with pulmonary actinomycosis. Methods: From 1984 to 2002, 14 patients with thoracic actinomycosis and hemoptysis were diagnosed after thoracotomy. There were 11 male and three female patients with a mean age of 53.6 years. They all had non-specific symptoms and radiographic findings, and no case was an accurate diagnosis made at the time of hospital admission, including echo-guide aspiration, serial bronchoscopic biopsy and computed tomography biopsy. The indications of surgical intervention in our patients were for treating complications such as hemoptysis, chronic sinus discharge, or empyema, also limited to diagnostic purposes. Preoperative embolization was performed in seven cases; however, none was successful. Results: Among the 14 patients, all the lesions were unilateral. The disease was confined to the lung in all patients; and chest wall involvement in one patient. The surgical procedures included were as follows: pneumonectomy (n=1), bilobectomy (n=1), lobectomy (n=10), wedge resection (n=2), and lung lesion with concomitant chest wall resection and chest wall reconstruction (n=1). Mean intraoperative and postoperative blood loss within the first 24 h was 192.3 ml, and five patients required blood transfusion. All of the specimens from the lesion site showed histological evidence of Actinomyces infection. All patients regularly took 12 million units per day of intravenous crystalline penicillin G during their hospitalization, and oral procaine penicillin for up to 2 months. During the follow-up, all patients had an uneventful postoperative course. Conclusions: A high index of suspicion for this disease is advised for the surgeon engaged in the treatment of hemoptysis. Surgical resection of pulmonary actinomycosis is effective in preventing recurrence of hemoptysis. After diagnosis, it is treated using penicillin chemotherapy for at least 2 months.


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