A chronic bronchopleural fistula and a fibrotic postthoracotomy space in a patient with poor functional respiratory reserve is a difficult problem. The classic management of bronchopleural cutaneous fistulas has been with further pulmonary resection to healthy bronchus, repair of the bronchus directly, and a thoracoplasty or myoplasty technique to obliterate the cavity. In a high risk patient, further pulmonary resection and thoracoplasty may be contraindicated. Myoplasty techniques alone without control of the fistula have limited success. In the last 4 years, we have treated six patients with right-sided thoracostomas after a primary open drainage procedure for bronchopleural fistula and empyema. The air leak was controlled with inversion of the sinus tract, fibrin glue, and muscle flap cavity obliteration. An average of two muscle flaps per patient were used, including the contralateral latissimus dorsi muscle. An 83 percent success rate has been achieved with this procedure in patients who otherwise would not be considered surgical candidates. Attention to the details described, including direct suture closure of the bronchial sinus, obliteration of the cavity by local muscle flaps, and avoidance of mechanical positive pressure ventilation, will make extended thoracotomy, pulmonary resection, and thoracoplasty unnecessary in these high risk patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1046-1053
Number of pages8
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1997


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