Needle Decompression Course

Needle decompression is indicated for the treatment of a tension pneumothorax.  The needle decompression course uses an advanced simulator torso to teach needle decompression in both the mid-clavicular line or the mid-axillary line.

Needle Decompression Training

What you will Learn in the Needle Decompression Course

Students will learn about the release of air when the angiocatheter enters the pleural space.  Needle thoracostomy is always followed by chest tube placement. Students will also learn traditional chest tube placement and wire-directed pigtail catheter placement as a part of our live CME course.

Why you should choose us for your needle decompression course

Our needle thoracostomy training is a component of our live Hospitalist and Emergency Procedures CME course which teaches clinicians how to perform the 20 most essential procedures needed to work in the ER, ICU, and hospital wards.

Take your skills to the next level with our comprehensive Needle Decompression Course!

Live Course Content

Online Course Content

Live & Online Course Information

Please send me information on Live and Online Courses

* indicates required



Needle Decompression Video

Needle Decompression Photos

Needle Decompression Skills Lab

Tube Thoracostomy Reference Card

More information about Needle Decompression Course

Needle Decompression

Needle decompression is a procedure used to treat patients who have a tension pneumothorax. Tension pneumothorax is when air from the lungs escapes into the pleural space – which is in between the lungs and the chest. This normally happens when the lung suffers a puncture, and when the air enters the pleural space it cannot return due to the ‘one-way-valve’ system. If enough air enters the pleural space, the lung completely collapses and the pressure in the thoracic cage prevents the heart from filling up with blood. Needle decompression is required in these circumstances as positive pressure ventilation would exacerbate this ‘one-way-valve’ effect – a buildup of pressure in the pleural space would push the mediastinum to the opposite hemithorax, which in turn obstructs venous return to the heart. This can cause many complications such as circulatory instability, which can result in traumatic arrest and can ultimately be fatal. If left untreated, tension pneumothorax can lead to cardiovascular collapse, respiratory insufficiency and even death.

There are a few causes of tension pneumothorax, the most common being blunt or penetrating chest trauma. This commonly occurs when there is a disruption of the visceral or parietal pleura, or can occasionally happen secondary to fractured ribs. Other causes can be barotrauma, central venous catheter placement, chest compressions and thoracic spine fractures. Common symptoms of tension pneumothorax vary as the condition advances. Early symptoms include chest pain, dyspnea, anxiety, tachycardia and tachypnea. If these symptoms are left to worsen, the person will display signs such as a decreased level of consciousness, hypotension, a swelling of the veins on the neck (this may not be present if hypotension has advanced) and cyanosis.

Needle decompression will quickly restore cardiopulmonary function, and reverses the physiologic effect of the tension pneumothorax. Needle decompression can indeed be life saving, however is not without its complications, so should be used by trained professionals. When administering needle decompression, the patient must first receive 100% oxygen, and must be informed to stay as still as they can. A 14 to 16 gauge angiocatheter is then inserted above the third rib in the mid-clavicular line. This is carefully administered until air can be aspirated into a syringe that is connected to a needle. If there is an immediate rush of air, this suggests a tension pneumothorax. A catheter is then advanced over the needle and left in place while a definitive chest tube is inserted on that side.

Ask the Experts

If you you would like to discuss Needle Decompression with an HPC physician we invite you to direct your question to an expert at We look forward to hearing from you.

Needle Decompression Course Trains Students in:

  • Indications for Needle Decompression
  • Contraindications to Needle Decompression
  • Equipment for Needle Decompression
  • Complications of Needle Decompression
  • Proper positioning and technique for Needle Decompression
  • Optimal sites for Needle Decompression

Needle Decompression Blogs

Peripheral Administration of Vasopressors and Their Safety

While vasopressors are typically administered through a central venous catheter (CVC), peripheral intravenous (PIV) administration is becoming more common in clinical practice. The safety of this administration method is now well-established and is a good alternative to CVC placement for…
Read More

Basic Emergency Procedures You Should Know

Physicians, physician associates (PAs), and nurse practitioners (NPs) need to be adept in a range of essential medical emergency procedures that they must perform in an inpatient settings. These bedside procedures are accomplished readily, but only if you have the…
Read More

What Size Catheter Should I Use For Needle Decompression For a Tension Pneumothorax?

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…
Read More

The Reasons Hospitalists Should Learn Hospital Procedures

Hospitalists are in the ideal position to perform bedside procedures on their patients. They know every aspect about their patients and have had the opportunity to develop a good rapport and the trust of their patients. So, why are they…
Read More

Survival to Hospital Discharge After Out-Of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Is Increasing

Previous investigations suggest that survival to hospital discharge following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) has remained stable (7%–8%) over the past 30 years. Recent recommendations regarding bystander and rescuer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) technique, post-resuscitation protocols, and regionalization of post-arrest care were…
Read More

Optimal Location for Needle Decompression For A Tension Pneumothorax

Needle decompression location Traditionally, needle decompression for the emergent treatment of a tension pneumothorax is the second intercostal space in the mid-clavicular line.  This remains an option for needle insertion when you are treating a tension pneumothorax.  This insertion point…
Read More

Hospitalist and Emergency Procedures CME Courses Available

Register HERE 21 days before the course to SAVE $50-150 and get the following:

  1. 12 month online access to Online CME course, procedure video bundle, instructional posters
  2. Indefinite online access to PDFs of all course lectures, course handouts, and HPC Adult Critical Care and Emergency Drug Reference Drug

Needle decompression is a life-saving maneuver performed for the stabilization of a tension pneumothorax.  The needle decompression course uses an advanced simulator to teach clinicians how to perform a needle decompression in the second intercostal space of the mid-clavicular line (the proper needle decompression locations) for the treatment of a tension pneumothorax.

Our needle decompression training is a component of our live Hospitalist and Emergency Procedures CME course which teaches clinicians how to perform the 20 most essential procedures needed to work in the ER, ICU, and hospital wards.

CLICK HERE to find out more about our premier live Hospitalist and Emergency Procedures CME course