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  • Author or Editor: Loren A. Reynolds x
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Objective—To determine the effect of treatment approach on outcome and the appropriateness of initial empirical antimicrobial treatment in dogs with pyothorax.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—46 dogs with pyothorax confirmed by either (n = 15) or both (31) of the following: intracellular bacteria in pleural fluid or tissue (41) and bacteria recovered via culture of pleural fluid (36).

Procedures—Medical records of dogs treated for pyothorax from 1983 through 2001 were reviewed. Data on signalment, history, clinical signs, and treatment and results of diagnostic imaging and cytologic and microbiological evaluations were obtained. Follow-up was performed via reexamination (n = 15) and contact with referring veterinarians (26) and owners (24).

Results—46 dogs were treated with at least 1 antimicrobial and thoracocentesis (n = 7; noninvasive group), a thoracostomy tube (26; invasive group) with or without pleural lavage and heparin, or a thoracotomy (13; surgical group) and thoracostomy tube with or without pleural lavage and heparin. Pyothorax recurred in 7 dogs, and 5 of the 7 died or were euthanatized. In the respective groups, the short-term survival rate was 29%, 77%, and 92% and the long-term survival rate was 29%, 71%, and 70%. Pleural lavage and heparin treatment increased the likelihood of short- and long-term survival. Results of antimicrobial susceptibility testing suggested empirical antimicrobial selection was associated with a 35% risk of inefficacy.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In the dogs with pyothorax in this study, favorable treatment effects were achieved with surgery (for short-term survival) and pleural lavage and heparin treatment (for short- and long-term survival). Findings failed to support the hypothesis that invasive (surgical) versus noninvasive treatment of pyothorax in dogs leads to a better long-term outcome.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association