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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2007 Mar;31(3):566-8. Epub 2007 Jan 9.

Small size new silastic drains: life-threatening hypovolemic shock after thoracic surgery associated with a non-functioning chest tube.

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Centre Hospitalier du Centre du Valais, Sion, Switzerland.


We report a case of a massive haemothorax following bilateral surgical resection of apical bullae. Occult bleeding was not recognized until the onset of a life-threatening circulatory collapse associated with metabolic acidosis and a fall in haemoglobin level. Using a thoracotomy, large amounts of blood were evacuated from the thoracic cavity and bleeding originating from ruptured pleural adhesion was easily controlled. Thrombotic material with talc particles was found to obstruct the 19-French 4-channel Blake drain. Although this new silastic Blake tube has been recommended in cardiac surgical patients, extending its indication in thoracic surgery, particularly when talc pleurodesis is used, should be questioned given the enhanced postoperative prothrombotic state and risk of drain obstruction. In conclusion, caution should be exercised when new small-sized material is introduced in clinical practice, especially after talc pleurodesis following thoracic surgery.

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