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Volume 39, Number 6, December 2006

Complicated parapneumonic effusion and empyema in children

Yea-Huei Shen, Kao-Pin Hwang, Chen-Kuang Niu
Division of Infectious Diseases and Division of Pulmonology, Department of Pediatrics, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital-Kaohsiung Medical Center, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung , Taiwan

Received: August 17, 2005    Revised: August 29, 2005    Accepted: August 31, 2005   


Corresponding author:

Dr. Kao-Pin Hwang, Department of Pediatrics, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Kaohsiung, 123 Ta-Pei Road, Niao-Sung Hsiang, Kaohsiung Hsien 833, Taiwan. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it



Background and purpose: 

Parapneumonic effusion and empyema are recognized complications of bacterial pneumonia. Optimal management in children, especially the duration of parenteral antibiotics and the role of surgery, is controversial. This study analyzed the clinical characteristics, management, outcome, and bacterial etiology of 59 patients with complicated parapneumonic effusion and empyema treated at a single medical center in Kaohsiung from January 1995 to March 2004.




The diagnosis of complicated parapneumonic effusion was based on the specific characteristics of pleural fluid, computed tomography or ultrasound findings, or direct visualization of loculations during the surgical procedure.




Causative agents were culture-confirmed in 42% of the cases. Streptococcus pneumoniae was the leading pathogen in this series (20% of cases). None of the S. pneumoniae isolates were susceptible to penicillin. Mycoplasma pneumoniae accounted for 19% of cases based on immunoglobulin M assay.




An initial combination therapy regimen consisting of cefotaxime or ceftriaxone plus macrolide provided reasonable activity against 80% of the pathogens isolated in this series. This study also revealed that prolonged parenteral antibiotic treatment resulted in longer length of hospital stay.



Key words:

Empyema, etiology, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, treatment outcome



J Microbiol Immunol Infect 2006;39:483-488.