Needle thoracostomy (NT) is a commonly taught intervention for tension pneumothorax (tPTX) but has a high failure rate. We hypothesize that standard 5-mm laparoscopic trocars may be a safe and more effective alternative.METHODS
Thirty episodes of tPTX and 27 episodes of tension-induced pulseless electrical activity (PEA) were induced in five adult swine using thoracic CO2 insufflation via balloon trocar. Tension was defined as a 50% decrease in cardiac output. Chest decompression was performed with 5-mm laparoscopic trocars for the treatment of both tPTX with hemodynamic compromise and tension-induced PEA. The lungs and heart were inspected and graded at necropsy for trocar-related injury. Results were also compared with success rates with NT in the same model.RESULTS
The placement of a 5-mm trocar rapidly and immediately relieved tension physiology in 100% of the cases. Mean arterial pressure, cardiac output, central venous pressure, and pulmonary capillary wedge pressure all returned to baseline within 1 minute of trocar placement. Adequate perfusion was restored in 100% of tension-induced PEA cases within 30 seconds of trocar placement. There was no evidence of trocar-related heart or lung damage in any of the experimental animals at necropsy (mean injury scores, 0 for both). Five-millimeter trocars significantly outperformed standard NT for both tPTX and tension-induced PEA arrest.CONCLUSION
tPTX and tension-induced PEA can be safely and effectively treated with chest decompression using 5-mm laparoscopic trocars. This technique may serve as a more rapid and reliable alternative to needle decompression.