Empyema as a complication of percutaneous lung abscess drainage

Case contributed by Dr Jayanth Keshavamurthy


Head and neck cancer, tracheotomy. Fever and evaluate left lower lobe.

Patient Data

Age: 65 years old
Gender: Male

Day 1 at presentation

Left lower lobe thick walled cavitary lesion, CT recommended.


Day 1 at presentation

Left lower lobe lung thick walled cavitary lesion likely abscess given fever history.


Day 2 of presentation

Percutaneous lung abscess drainage under CT guidance by Interventional radiology. 15 cc pus drained.


Day 9 of presentation

Pig tail catheter in position. This chest radiograph is done 7 days after chest tube was placed.


Significant interval worsening with a large extrapleural collection, likely an empyema. Significant interval worsening of left lung abscess and pneumonia. There is mediastinal shift to the left. No pneumothorax. Recommend thoracic surgery consultation for VATS drainage.


Day 9 of presentation


Loculated left pleural fluid with thickened, enhancing pleura. 


Day 10 at presentation

Post VATS changes.

Case Discussion

Caution when doing percutaneous lung drainage for lung abscesses. The culture grew Pseudomonas aeroginosa.

Chest radiographs were not performed for 7 days after chest tube placement.

PlayAdd to Share

Case information

rID: 50944
Published: 10th Feb 2017
Last edited: 14th Aug 2019
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included