Tube thoracostomy, or chest tube placement, is a commonly performed surgical procedure during which fluid, blood, and/or air are drained from the chest cavity. Traditional methods involved a 3-bottle drainage system that was prone to accidental disconnections and blockages. Fortunately, such modalities have been largely replaced by commercially produced, disposable plastic multifunction units that fit into a single box; these systems offer improved efficacy with effective drainage, accurate fluid loss measurement, and assistance in detecting air leaks. Despite such advances, the ineffective placement of chest tubes is, unfortunately, common and is associated with significant complications in many individuals who undergo the procedure.
To meet the educational needs of clinicians involved in the management of patients receiving a chest drainage procedure, this activity will provide an in-depth review of the normal anatomy of the thorax and the physiology or respiration as well as a description of the pathologies that may warrant the need for pleural space drainage. Traditional and new-generation chest drainage systems will be compared and trouble-shooting tips for improving the care of patients undergoing chest drainage will be presented.