Type of Surgery


Doctor Certified

Last updated: 02/17/2009


The chest tube typically remains secure and in place until imaging studies such as x rays show that air or fluid has been removed from the pleural cavity. This removal of air or fluid will allow the affected lung to fully re-expand, allowing for adequate...

or improved breathing. After chest tube insertion, the patient will stay in the hospital until the tube is removed. It is common to expect complete recovery from chest tube insertion and removal. During the stay, the medical and nursing staff will carefully and periodically monitor the chest tube for air leaks or if the patient is having breathing difficulties. Deep breathing and coughing after insertion can help with drainage and lung re-expansion.

Aftercare should also include chest tube removal and follow-up care. The patient is placed in the same position in which the tube was inserted. Using precautions to maintain a sterile field, the suture holding the tube in place is loosened and the chest is prepared for tying the insertion-point wound. The chest tube is then clamped to disconnect the suction system. At this point, the patient will be asked to hold his or her breath, and the clinician will remove the tube with a swift motion. After the suture is tied, dressing (gauze with antibiotic ointment) and tape is securely applied to close the wound. A chest x ray should be repeated soon after tube removal and, within 48 hours, a routine wound care clinic follow-up is advised to remove the dressing and to further assess the patient's medical status and condition.

7. Risks



Other Information


Surgical insertion of a hollow, flexible drainage tube into the chest.

Alternative Names:

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.

From http://www.healthcentral.com/ency/408/002947.html

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