Type of Surgery
Last updated: 02/17/2009
A chest tube insertion is a procedure to place a flexible, hollow drainage tube into the chest in order to remove an abnormal collection of air or fluid from the pleural space (located between the inner and outer lining of the lung).
Surgical insertion of a hollow, flexible drainage tube into the chest.
Chest drainage tube insertion; Insertion of tube into chest; Tube thoracostomy
Chest tubes are inserted to drain blood, fluid, or air and allow full expansion of the lungs. The tube is placed between the ribs and into the space between the inner lining and the outer lining of the lung (pleural space).
The area where the tube will be inserted is numbed (local anesthesia). The patient may also be sedated. The chest tube is inserted through an incision between the ribs into the chest and is connected to a bottle or canister that contains sterile water. Suction is attached to the system to encourage drainage. A stitch (suture) and adhesive tape is used to keep the tube in place.
The chest tube usually remains in place until the X-rays show that all the blood, fluid, or air has drained from the chest and the lung has fully re-expanded. When the chest tube is no longer needed, it can be easily removed, usually without the need for medications to sedate or numb the patient. Medications may be used to prevent or treat infection (antibiotics).
In certain patients, the chest tube may be inserted using a minimally invasive technique under radiographic guidance.
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