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Ann Thorac Surg. 2013 Dec;96(6):2262-7. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2013.07.055. Epub 2013 Oct 24.

The rate of pleural fluid drainage as a criterion for the timing of chest tube removal: theoretical and practical considerations.

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Department of Surgery, University of California, Davis, Medical Center, Sacramento, California. Electronic address:


Clinicians place chest tubes approximately 1 million times each year in the United States, but little information is available to guide their management. Specifically, use of the rate of pleural fluid drainage as a criterion for tube removal is not standardized. Absent such tubes, pleural fluid drains primarily through parietal pleural lymphatics at rates approaching 500 mL of fluid per day or more for each hemithorax. Early removal of tubes does not appear to be harmful. A noninferiority randomized trial currently in progress comparing removal without considering the drainage rate to a conservative threshold (2 mL/kg body weight in 24 hours) may better inform tube management.



[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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