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Managing empyema in adults

Abstract

A collection of pus in the pleural space (empyema) is a dangerous condition that is usually a complication of pneumonia. Empyema can be associated with a delayed response of pneumonia to antibacterial treatment.1 It can lead to septicaemia, disseminated abscesses and prolonged hospitalisation.13 Reported mortality rates are typically 7-33%,26 but may exceed 50% in elderly patients or those with significant comorbidity, such as malignancy, diabetes mellitus or alcohol abuse.3,5,7 Here we review the management of adults with empyema.

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