Outcome of spontaneous and iatrogenic pneumothoraces managed with small-bore chest tubes

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Abstract

Background:

Little is known about the efficacy of management of iatrogenic pneumothoraces with small-bore chest tubes. The aim of this study was to assess the outcome of iatrogenic pneumothoraces requiring drainage managed with a small-bore chest tube and to compare the results to spontaneous pneumothoraces treated in the same unit with the same device. The primary outcome was requirement of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery for drainage failure; secondary outcomes were length of drainage and number of inserted chest tubes.

Methods:

Patients with pneumothorax admitted between 1997 and 2007 were retrospectively identified. Traumatic pneumothoraces and those occurring under mechanical ventilation were excluded. All pneumothoraces were drained using the same small-bore chest tube (8 French) according to our local protocol.

Results:

Five hundred sixty-one pneumothoraces were analysed, 431 (76.8%) were spontaneous pneumothoraces and 130 (23.2%) were iatrogenic. Iatrogenic pneumothoraces were associated with less requirement of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery for drainage failure [adjusted odds ratio= 0.24 (0.04, 0.86)]. Length of drainage of iatrogenic pneumothoraces was longer than for primary spontaneous pneumothoraces (3.8 ± 3.1 vs. 2.7 ± 1.8 days, P < 0.001) and shorter than for secondary spontaneous pneumothoraces (4.6 ± 2.3 days, P = 0.004). Number of inserted chest tubes per patient was not significantly different according to pneumothoraces' aetiology.

Conclusion:

Small-bore chest tubes are feasible for treatment of iatrogenic pneumothoraces and have a better rate of success and slightly longer drainage duration than when used for spontaneous pneumothoraces.

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