A cost-effective thoracoscopic treatment strategy for pediatric spontaneous pneumothorax

C. H. Cook, W. S. Melvin, J. I. Groner, E. Allen, D. R. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Recent data suggest that children have a higher incidence of recurrence than adults after nonoperative treatment of primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP). Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) allows efficacious therapy with significantly less morbidity. We attempt to define the most cost-effective clinically efficacious strategy using VATS to manage pediatric PSP. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed all admissions to a tertiary care children's hospital for PSP between January 1, 1991 and June 30, 1996. Results: Fifteen children had 29 primary or recurrent PSPs. Mean patient age was 14.8 ± 1.1 years, boy-girl ratio 4:1, median body mass index 18 (normal, 20-25), and 67% of pneumothoraces left sided. All patients were managed initially nonoperatively: 14 with tube thoracostomy drainage and 1 with oxygen alone. Of the children initially managed nonoperatively, 57% had a recurrent pneumothorax, and 50% of these patients eventually developed contralateral pneumothoraces. Nonoperative treatment for recurrence resulted in a 75% second recurrence rate. In contrast, eight children who underwent operative management had a 9% incidence of recurrence. The total for charges accrued in treating 29 pneumothoraces in these 15 patients was approximately $315,000. In the same population, the estimated charges for initial nonoperative therapy followed by bilateral thoracoscopy after a single recurrence would be $230,000. Conclusions: A cost-effective treatment strategy for pediatric primary spontaneous pneumothorax is tube thoracostomy at first presentation, followed by VATS with thoracoscopic bleb resection and pleurodesis for patients who experience recurrent pneumothorax.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1208-1210
Number of pages3
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1999


  • Cost effective
  • Pediatric
  • Spontaneous pneumothorax
  • VATS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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