Autologous blood patch pleurodesis for prolonged postoperative air leaks

Irsa S. Hasan, Mark S. Allen, Stephen D. Cassivi, William S. Harmsen, Nandita Mahajan, Francis C. Nichols, Janani Reisenauer, Robert K. Shen, Dennis A. Wigle, Shanda H. Blackmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A prolonged air leak (PAL) is the most frequent complication after pulmonary resection. This study aimed to assess the safety and efficacy of autologous blood patch pleurodesis (ABPP) to treat PAL. Methods: A prospectively maintained database identified patients with a PAL after pulmonary resection for lung cancer between 2015-2019. In this observational cohort study, clinical data were collected to retrospectively compare patients undergoing ABPP to no ABPP in a propensity-matched analysis. Kaplan Meier estimates and Cox models accounting for inverse probability weighting (IPTW) were used to assess the association of ABPP with each outcome. Results: Of the 740 patients undergoing lung resection, 110 (15%) were identified as having a PAL at postoperative day (POD) 5. There was no difference between baseline characteristics among those undergoing ABPP (n=34) versus no ABPP (n=76). Propensity-weighted analysis did not reveal a significant association of ABPP treatment with in-hospital complication (P=0.18), hospital length of stay (LOS) (P=0.13), or post-discharge complication (P=0.13). However, ABPP treatment was associated with a lower risk of hospital readmission [P=0.02, hazard ratio (HR) 0.16] and reoperation for air leak or empyema (P=0.05, HR 0.11). Although not statistically significant, the mean chest tube (CT) removal of 11 days for the ABPP group was less than the no ABPP group (16 days) (P=0.14, HR 1.5-2). Those treated with ABPP were less likely to be discharged with a CT (ABPP 7/34, 21% vs. no ABPP 40/76, 53%). There was no statistical difference in empyema development between groups (ABPP 0/34, 0% vs. no ABPP 4/76, 5%, P=0.39, HR 0.24). Conclusions: ABPP administration is safe compared to traditional PAL management. In a retrospective propensity-matched analysis, postoperative patients treated with ABPP required less readmission and reoperation for PAL. Larger powered randomized trials may demonstrate the magnitude of benefit from treatment with ABPP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3347-3358
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Thoracic Disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Blood patch
  • Chest tube
  • Pleurodesis
  • Prolonged air leak (PAL)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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