To determine the prevalence, outcome and risk factors for postoperative pyothorax in dogs undergoing thoracic surgery.


Case records were reviewed retrospectively to identify dogs with post thoracic surgery pyothorax, defined as septic neutrophilic inflammation within the pleural space based on cytology and/or a positive bacterial culture of pleural fluid. Those identified were reviewed for potential risk factors for postoperative pyothorax based on biological plausibility and previously published data. These potential risk factors were explored by multivariable logistic regression.


Of 232 dogs undergoing thoracic surgery, 15 (6·5%) dogs developed pyothorax. Bacteria cultured included methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and multi-resistant Escherichia coli. Of these dogs, six died, four were euthanased and five were treated successfully. A diagnosis of idiopathic chylothorax [Odds Ratio (OR)=12·5, 95% Confidence Interval (CI)=2·7-58·5, P=0·001], preoperative intrathoracic biopsy (OR=14·3, 95% CI=1·7-118·7, P=0·014) and preoperative thoracocentesis (OR=11·2, 95% CI=1·6-78·2, P=0·015) were identified as independent risk factors for development of postoperative pyothorax.

Clinical Significance

Idiopathic chylothorax, intrathoracic biopsy and prior thoracocentesis are independent risk factors for postoperative pyothorax, which was associated with a 67% mortality rate.