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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2008 Jan;90(1):54-7. doi: 10.1308/003588408X242286.

Pre-hospital and in-hospital thoracostomy: indications and complications.

Author information

1
Trauma Service, Department of Surgery, Royal London Hospital, London, UK. cjaylwin@doctors.org.uk

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Pleural drainage with chest tube insertion for thoracic trauma is a common and often life-saving technique. Although considered a simple procedure, complication rates have been reported to be 2-25%. We conducted a prospective cohort observational study of emergency pleural drainage procedures to validate the indications for pre-hospital thoracostomy and to identify complications from both pre- and in-hospital thoracostomies.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

Data were collected over a 7-month period on all patients receiving either pre-hospital thoracostomy or emergency department tube thoracostomy. Outcome measures were appropriate indications, errors in tube placement and subsequent complications.

RESULTS:

Ninety-one chest tubes were placed into 52 patients. Sixty-five thoracostomies were performed in the field without chest tube placement. Twenty-six procedures were performed following emergency department identification of thoracic injury. Of the 65 pre-hospital thoracostomies, 40 (61%) were for appropriate indications of suspected tension pneumothorax or a low output state. The overall complication rate was 14% of which 9% were classified as major and three patients required surgical intervention. Twenty-eight (31%) chest tubes were poorly positioned and 15 (17%) of these required repositioning.

CONCLUSIONS:

Pleural drainage techniques may be complicated and have the potential to cause life-threatening injury. Pre-hospital thoracostomies have the same potential risks as in-hospital procedures and attention must be paid to insertion techniques under difficult scene conditions. In-hospital chest tube placement complication rates remain uncomfortably high, and attention must be placed on training and assessment of staff in this basic procedure.

Comment in

PMID:
18201502
PMCID:
PMC2216718
DOI:
10.1308/003588408X242286
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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