A New Method to Detect Air Leakage in a Patient With Pneumothorax Using Saline Solution and Multidetector-Row Spiral CT Scan

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Background:The purpose of this study was to establish a new CT scan method to show signs of air leakage and to detect the point of the lung leak in patients with spontaneous pneumothorax by using saline solution and phonation.Methods:Eleven patients with spontaneous pneumothorax who had a chest tube placed and underwent an operation because of continuing air leakage were studied. After a plain chest CT scan was performed, 0.9% saline was injected into the affected pleural cavity. A CT scan was acquired again while the patient vocalized continuously. The CT images were evaluated by two thoracic surgeons. All patients underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery to confirm their points of leakage and were treated for spontaneous pneumothorax.Results:Bubble shadows were seen in nine of 11 cases. In seven of those nine cases, multiple bubbles formed foam or wave shadows. These cases had a small pleural fistula. In the other two cases with a large fistula, air-fluid level in bulla and ground-glass attenuation areas were seen in the pulmonary parenchyma. In all 11 cases, some air-leakage signs were seen on CT scan, and a culprit lesion was presumed to exist by analyzing CT imaging findings and confirming with a surgical air-leak test.Conclusions:With a saline injection and vocalization, CT scan could demonstrate air-leak signs in patients with spontaneous pneumothorax. This method does not require contrast medium, special instruments, or high skill and, thus, is a novel and useful examination to detect the culprit lesion in pneumothorax.

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