Comparative Study
Journal Article
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Small-bore catheter versus chest tube drainage for pneumothorax.

STUDY OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to compare the effectiveness of drainage via a single-lumen (5F catheter) central venous catheter (CVC) to a conventional (14-20 F catheter) chest tube (CT) for the management of pneumothoraces, including primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP), secondary spontaneous pneumothorax (SSP), and traumatic and iatrogenic pneumothoraces.

PATIENTS: All consecutive patients admitted to the intermediate intensive care unit of a university hospital for pneumothorax were retrospectively screened over an 8-year period. Patients were preferentially treated using CT from 2003 to 2007 and using CVC from 2008 to 2010. Drainage failure was defined as the need for a second drainage procedure or for surgery.

RESULTS: Of 212 patients included, 117 (55%) had PSP, 28 (13%) had SSP associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 19 (9%) had traumatic pneumothorax, and 48 (23%) had iatrogenic pneumothorax. The failure rate was 23% in PSP, 36% in SSP, 16% in traumatic pneumothorax, and only 2% in iatrogenic pneumothorax. After adjustment, iatrogenic pneumothorax was the only factor that had an influence on drainage failure. The failure rate was similar between the 112 patients treated using CVC and the 100 patients treated using CT (18% vs 21%, P = .60). However, the durations of drainage (3.3 ± 1.9 vs 4.6 ± 2.6 days, P < .01) and of hospital stay were significantly shorter in patients treated using CVC as compared with CT.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that drainage via a catheter or via a CT is similarly effective in the management of pneumothorax. We recommend considering drainage via a small-bore catheter as a first-line treatment in patients with pneumothorax, whatever its cause.

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