Introduction. Prolonged air leak (PAL) is one of the most common postoperative complications after lung surgery. It is associated with increased significant morbidity, lower quality of life, longer hospital stay and higher hospital costs. Since its great clinical and economic burden, it is important to establish the feasibility and the effectiveness of the routinary preventive use of a fibrin sealant in order to reduce the incidence of prolonged air leaks.
Patients and methods. This is a randomized study on 189 adult patients - 118 men (62.4%) and 71 women (37.6%) aged from 39 to 87 y.o. (mean age 68.3 y.o.) - who underwent lung surgery (lobectomy or bilobectomy) with intraoperatory detection of air leakage, from January 2013 to December 2017, at Department of Thoracic Surgery in “Ospedale Maggiore Carlo Alberto Pizzardi” (Bologna, Italy) and Department of Thoracic Surgery in “Paolo Giaccone” Teaching Hospital (Palermo, Italy). Patients were randomly assigned to the “Glue” arm (90 patients) or the “Control” group (99 patients). We only used stapler or manual suture to achieve aerostasis. In addition, we used a fibrin sealant (“glue”) to cover the suture line on patients in the “Glue” arm. The primary endpoints were incidence of prolonged air leaks, days with chest tube and mean hospital stay.
Results. In the “Glue” arm we experienced only 1 prolonged air leak (1.1%), while in the “Control” group there were 8 leaks (8.1%). Patients kept chest tube for average 4.15 days in the “Glue” arm and 4.45 days in the “Control” group. The mean hospital stay was average 7.4 days for the “Glue” arm, while 9.1 days in the “Control” group.
Conclusions. According to our experience it seems that the routinary preventive use of a fibrin sealant results in a lower incidence of prolonged air leaks, a shorter hospital stay with lower hospital costs, representing a cost-effective, feasible and effective system to decrease morbility and mortality among surgical patients.
KEY WORDS: Prolonged air leak - Pneumothorax - Alveolo-pleural fistula - Fibrin glue - Thoracic surgery - Lung.