Chronic empyema is the final stage of the triphasic pathogenesis of empyema that is characterized by fibrin deposits in both pleural surfaces, leading to the formation of a thickened pleural peel. This restricts the lung movements, giving rise to a trapped lung and impairment of pulmonary function. The aim of this study was to determine the change in pulmonary function following decortication for chronic empyema.
A total of 35 patients with chronic pleural empyema who underwent decortication via a posterolateral thoracotomy between July 2016 and July 2017 were reviewed and followed-up for 6±3 months after surgery. All patients underwent a pulmonary function test using spirometry before and after surgery. Pre-operation spirometry values [mean forced expiratory volume in 1s (FEV) and mean forced vital capacity (FVC)] were compared with the post-operation data obtained during follow-up and the change was quantified by statistical analysis.
FEV was 70.51% before surgery vs. 83.43% after surgery (p<0.001). FVC was 69.74% before surgery vs. 85.40% after surgery (p<0.001). There was no influence of bacteriology, side of occurrence of the lesion, smoking habit, or diabetes mellitus present before the operation on the patients' lung function (p>0.01).
Decortication and pleurectomy via a posterolateral thoracotomy resulted in significant clinico-functional improvement in patients with chronic empyema, regardless of the bacteriology, side of occurrence of the lesion, smoking habit, or diabetic status of the patient.

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