Chest tube placement, or tube thoracostomy, can be an anxiety-provoking procedure for both the patient AND the operator.  It can also be a very gratifying procedure for the operator when performed successfully and without patient discomfort. Here are a few…
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Complicated parapneumonic effusions frequently represent pleural space infections. Approximately 1 in 7 cases of pneumonia have an associated parapneumonic effusion (PPE) on chest x-ray. Most of these effusions are small and usually resolve spontaneously with prompt antibiotic administration. However, moderate-to-large…
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This blog will offer some expert recommendations to help guide the safety of hospital procedures at different platelet and coagulation profiles.  Unfortunately, there are no strong evidence-based guidelines for hospital procedures dedicated to the study of patients with decompensated cirrhosis.…
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Traditional teaching is that chest tubes placed to evacuate a pneumothorax should be directed anterior and superior and to evacuate fluid should be directed posterior and inferior. A recent study examined the effect of specific chest tube position on chest…
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The optimal insertion site for tube thoracostomy is at the mid-axillary line in the triangle of safety.  This avoids any major nerves or arteries aside from the intercostal vessels.  Ultrasound-guided localization of this site performed better than palpation. In semi-elective…
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A patient with a hemodynamically stable spontaneous pneumothorax can be managed as an outpatient using the placement of a small-bore pigtail catheter attached to a Heimlich valve.   As the Director of Medicine at a teaching hospital, I frequently encounter…
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Pleural fluid pH is an important measure for determining the clinical management of pleural diseases. For example, a pleural fluid pH <7.2 in patients with suspected pleural infection should mandate the placement of a chest tube. However, pleural fluid pH…
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A collection of recent studies has helped determine the best protocol for removing chest tubes. For instance, a trial of water seal for at least six hours is recommended before discontinuation. The water seal reduces the need for another chest…
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A recent meta-analysis of 13 studies that were investigating needle decompression compared data of sample size, mean chest wall thickness, and decompression success rates. The meta-analysis concluded that the needle decompression catheter should be at least 6.5 cm in length…
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