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Stepwise multidisciplinary approach in very low birthweight infant with bronchopleural fistula


A 25-week gestation infant experienced chest infection complicated by septic shock and tension pneumothorax. Despite multiple drains, it was impossible to reinflate the lung, thus suggesting a bronchopleural fistula. Multidisciplinary meetings were arranged, involving the parents, and a stepwise approach was agreed. Chest drain repositioning, single lung ventilation and pleurodesis proved unsuccessful. In a rare window of relative stability, open chest surgery was performed at the cot-side by the paediatric general and cardiothoracic surgical teams. A large tear was identified at the carina, extending along the left main bronchus. This was repaired, with immediate clinical improvement. He was extubated 7 days later and discharged home on day 94 (CGA 39+0). This case report describes a successful stepwise multidisciplinary approach to a bronchopleural fistula in a very low birthweight infant, highlighting the potential for surgical intervention at cot-side and the value of involving the surgical team early on.

  • air leaks
  • neonatal intensive care
  • pneumothorax
  • paediatric surgery

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