Chest tube drainage of transudative pleural effusions hastens liberation from mechanical ventilation

Yizhak Kupfer, Chanaka Seneviratne, Kabu Chawla, Kavan Ramachandran, Sidney Tessler
Chest 2011, 139 (3): 519-523

BACKGROUND: Pleural effusions occur frequently in patients requiring mechanical ventilatory support. Treatment of the precipitating cause and resolution of the pleural effusion may take considerable time. We retrospectively studied the effect of chest tube drainage of transudative pleural effusions on the liberation of patients from mechanical ventilatory support.

METHODS: Patients in the medical ICU (MICU) at Maimonides Medical Center between January 1, 2009, and October 31, 2009, requiring mechanical ventilatory support with a transudative pleural effusion, were studied retrospectively. They were divided into two groups: standard care and standard care plus chest tube drainage. Chest tubes were placed under ultrasound guidance by trained intensivists. Duration of mechanical ventilatory support was the primary end point. Secondary end points included measures of oxygenation, amount of fluid drained, and complications associated with the chest tube.

RESULTS: A total of 168 patients were studied; 88 were treated with standard care and 80 underwent chest tube drainage. Total duration of mechanical ventilatory support was significantly shorter for patients who had chest tube drainage: 3.8±0.5 days vs 6.5±1.1 days for the standard group (P=.03). No differences in oxygenation were noted between the two groups. The average amount of fluid drained was 1,220 mL. No significant complications were caused by chest tube drainage.

CONCLUSIONS: Chest tube drainage of transudative pleural effusions resulted in more rapid liberation from mechanical ventilatory support. It is a very safe procedure when performed under ultrasound guidance by experienced personnel.

TRIAL REGISTRY:; Identifier: NCT0114285; URL:

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"