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OBJECTIVE: The incidence of bronchiectasis has declined markedly in developed countries. However, a reasonable number of patients still need surgery, despite aggressive physiotherapy and antibiotic therapy. We have reviewed our patients to clarify the benefits from surgery and to analyse the complications. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Between 1988 and 1999, we have operated on 119 patients with bronchiectasis, 71 female and 48 male, with a mean age of 42.2 years (range 11--77 years). Surgery was indicated because of unsuccessful medical therapy in 66 patients (55%), 31 (26%) had haemoptysis, 11 (9.2%) had lung abscess, 10 (8.4%) had lung masses, and three (2.5%) had pneumothorax. The most common manifestations were cough with sputum in 90 patients (76%), haemoptysis in 45 (38%) and recurrent infections in 57 (48%). The mean duration of the symptoms was 4 years (range 1--40 years). The lower lobes were diseased in 61 patients and bilateral disease was found in ten. The mean number of involved pulmonary segments was five (range 1-15). A lobectomy was performed in 75 patients (62%), a segmentectomy in 12 (10%), a pneumonectomy in nine (7.4%) and a bilobectomy in four (3.3%). Complete resection of the disease was achieved in 108 cases (91%). RESULTS: There was no operative mortality and perioperative morbidity occurred in 15 patients (15%), including temporary broncho-pleural fistulae in 7 (5.8%), and post-operative haemorrhage and atrial arrhythmias in four (3.3%) each. After a mean follow-up was 4.5 years, 73 patients (68%) of this group were asymptomatic, and 31 (29%) had meaningful clinical improvement, while only four (3.7%) maintained or worsened prior symptoms. The best clinical improvement occurred in patients with complete resection of the disease (P=0.008). There were no differences in the respiratory function, comparing pre- and post-operative data, with a 2-year of minimum interval. The VC was 91 and 89% and the FEV1 was 83% and 81% of expected, respectively before and after surgery, (P=NS). CONCLUSION: Surgery of pulmonary bronchiectasis has few complications and markedly improves symptoms in the great majority of patients, especially when complete resection of the disease is achieved. Pulmonary resection of bronchiectasis does not alter respiratory function.