Pediatric parapneumonic empyema: Risk factors, clinical characteristics, microbiology, and management

Galia Grisaru-Soen, Michal Eisenstadt, Gideon Paret, David Schwartz, Nathan Keller, Hagit Nagar, Shimon Reif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Pediatric empyema is increasing in incidence and continues to be a source of morbidity in children. Our objective was to determine the risk factors, clinical characteristics, distribution of the pathogens, and outcome of pediatric empyema in 2 Israeli pediatric medical centers. METHODS: This was a retrospective case-control study on children aged 2 months to 18 years hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in the pre-Prevnar era (2000-2009). Demographic data, presenting symptoms, physical examination findings, imaging studies, laboratory results, hospital course, medical treatment, and surgical interventions were reviewed from medical records and computerized microbiology databases. RESULTS: One hundred ninety-one children comprised of 47 (24.9%) with parapneumonic empyema and 144(75.4%) without empyema. The symptoms and course of the children with empyema were substantially worse compared with patients without empyema. The most prevalent pathogen was Streptococcus pneumonia. The most common pneumococcal serotype was serotype 5, and 86% of the recovered S. pneumoniae were susceptible to penicillin. Children with empyema most commonly presented with prolonged fever, dyspnea (51%), and chest pain (17%). Forty-five children with empyema (98%) required a chest tube, fibrinolysis, or decortication with video-assisted thoracoscopy (VATS). Hospitalization stay was similar for children with empyema who underwent VATS and those who were treated conventionally. CONCLUSIONS: The most prevalent pathogen in children with CAP with and without empyema is S. pneumoniae. Children with empyema experience significantly more morbidity than did patients with CAP alone. In our experience, VATS apparently does not shorten the duration of hospitalization compared with conventional treatment. Immunization may affect the incidence of pediatric empyema and should be studied prospectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-429
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Emergency Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • S. pneumoniae
  • empyema
  • prolonged fever
  • video-assisted thoracoscop


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