OBJECTIVE: Gastropleural fistula represents a rare clinical event often resulting in an iatrogenic complication of gastrointestinal surgery. Clinical presentation is insidious, patients complain of chronic and non-specific respiratory symptoms and may be conservatively treated for lung infections for several months until detailed tests finally reveal the correct diagnosis. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We describe a case of a healthy patient with an unexpected diagnosis of empyema due to a gastropleural fistula. RESULTS: A 51-year-old man with a past history of splenectomy for cyst was admitted because of high fever and cough. A chest radiography and CT-scan revealed a left-side pneumonia complicated with pleural empyema. Broad spectrum empirical antibiotics and pleural drainage did not significantly improve the clinical picture. While the need for a surgical complex thoracic approach becomes a collective awareness, questions about causes of empyema and its unfavorable evolution in our patient did not initially find a common satisfactory answer. It was only by the identification of probiotics bacteria in the pleural fluid that a gastropleural fistula was suspected, and then, it was confirmed by CT-scan and by digestive endoscopy. A combined thora-co-abdominal surgical treatment was therefore scheduled, leading to progressive improvement till total healing. CONCLUSIONS: Although gastropleural fistula is rare, it is necessary to include this pathological condition in the differential diagnosis of a persistent complicated pneumonia, because early diagnosis and, consequently, surgical management, may significantly impact on the prognosis of these patients. In our case, the detection of probiotics bacteria in the pleural fluid helped us to suspect and to look for the fistula.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2600-2603
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Fistula
  • Pneumonia
  • Probiotic


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