Traumatic retained hemothorax: is it time for video assisted thoracoscopic surgery
Keywords:Hemothorax, Retained hemothorax, Video assisted thoracoscopic surgery, Thoracostomy, Thoracic trauma
Thoracic trauma is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, if not treated promptly. 80% to 85% of chest injuries can be treated with chest tube insertion alone. However, in about four to 20% of population, there is incomplete clearance of hemothorax following tube insertion and can lead to a condition called retained hemothorax. The purpose of this review is to establish the role and effectiveness of Video assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) in successful evacuation of retained hemothorax following blunt thoracic trauma. Relevant articles from databases like Pubmed, Google scholar, Medline and Cochrane library were included. A retained hemothorax is defined as the persistence of residual clots in the pleural cavity, which is radiologically evident, 72 hours following initial tube thoracostomy. The various options to manage this condition include observation, insertion of second thoracostomy tube, intrapleural fibrinolytic, VATS or thoracotomy. Based on review of existing studies, VATS evacuation was found to have shorter hospital stay, lesser costs and shorter duration of tube drainage. There was also lesser rate of conversion to thoracotomy as compared to other methods and fewer complications like fibrothorax and empyema. In hemodynamically unstable patients, which is a contraindication to VATS, use of intrapleural fibrinolytics like streptokinase may be considered as an alternative option to provide clearance of the retained hemothorax. Retained hemothorax, when encountered following thoracic trauma, can be effectively managed by VATS. The decision to use VATS for hemothorax evacuation should be made promptly for maximum results, especially within three to seven days following trauma.
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