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Pediatr Neonatol. 2011 Dec;52(6):337-41. doi: 10.1016/j.pedneo.2011.08.007. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

Comparison of pigtail catheter with chest tube for drainage of parapneumonic effusion in children.

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Department of Pediatrics, Jen-Ai Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.



The use of thoracostomy tube for drainage of parapneumonic effusion is an important therapeutic measure. In this study, we compared the effectiveness and complications between chest tube and pigtail catheter thoracostomy for drainage of parapneumonic pleural effusion in children.


We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of children with parapneumonic effusion during the period of July 2001 through December 2003. Patients who received thoracostomy with either chest tube or pigtail catheter were enrolled into this study. Medical records, such as age, sex, clinical presentation, subsequent therapies, hospital stay, laboratory data, and complications, were collected and compared between these two methods of intervention.


A total of 32 patients (17 boys and 15 girls; age range, 2-17 years; mean age, 14 years) were enrolled into the study. Twenty patients were treated with traditional chest tubes, whereas 12 patients were treated with pigtail catheters. In the chest tube group, drainage failure occurred in one patient and pneumothorax occurred in two patients. In the pigtail catheter group, drainage failure occurred in two patients, but no case was complicated with pneumothorax. There were no significant differences in either drainage days or hospitalization days between the chest tube group and pigtail catheter group (6.0 ± 2.6 vs. 5.9 ± 3.8, p=0.66; 12.5 ± 5.6 vs. 17.3 ± 8.5, p=0.13).


The effectiveness and complications of the pigtail catheter were comparable to those of the chest tubes.

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