Emphysema is still a serious thoracic infection, despite the development of increasingly powerful antimicrobial agents. Although it appears to be on the decline in the general population,1-4 the incidence of empyema continues to be significant in the indigent population. Since relatively little attention has been paid to empyema in recent medical literature, this report will present our experience with thoracic empyema at the San Francisco General Hospital from 1950 to 1968. The etiology, the changing character of infecting bacterial flora, and the results of medical and surgical therapy will be discussed.
From 1950 to 1968, 130 cases of nontuberculous empyema were treated at San Francisco General Hospital. There were 103 males and 27 females, including eight children under the age of 10. There were 36 cases of empyema from 1950 to 1955, 58 cases from 1956 to 1961, and 36 cases from 1962 to 1968. The number