JOURNAL ARTICLE

Ambulatory management of large spontaneous pneumothorax with pigtail catheters

Fanny Voisin, Laurent Sohier, Yann Rochas, Mallorie Kerjouan, Charles Ricordel, Chantal Belleguic, Benoit Desrues, Stéphane Jouneau
Annals of Emergency Medicine 2014, 64 (3): 222-8
24439715

STUDY OBJECTIVE: There is no consensus about the management of large spontaneous pneumothoraces. Guidelines recommend either needle aspiration or chest tube drainage and most patients are hospitalized. We assess the efficiency of ambulatory management of large spontaneous pneumothoraces with pigtail catheters.

METHODS: From February 2007 to January 2011, all primary and secondary large spontaneous pneumothoraces from Lorient's hospital (France) were managed with pigtail catheters with a 1-way valve. The patients were discharged immediately and then evaluated every 2 days according to a specific algorithm.

RESULTS: Of the 132 consecutive patients (110 primary, 22 secondary), 103 were exclusively managed as outpatients, with full resolution of the pneumothorax by day 2 or 4, which represents an ambulatory success rate of 78%. Mean time (SD) of drainage was 3.4 days (1.8). Seven patients were initially hospitalized but quickly discharged and had full resolution by day 2 or 4, leading to a total success rate of 83%. The use of analgesics was low. The 1-year recurrence rate was 26%. If successful, this outpatient management is potentially cost saving, with a mean cost of $926, assuming up to 2 outpatient visits and 1 chest radiograph, compared with $4,276 if a chest tube was placed and the patient was admitted to the hospital for 4 days.

CONCLUSION: Ambulatory management with pigtail catheters with 1-way valves could be a reasonable first-line of treatment for large spontaneous pneumothoraces. Compared with that of other studies, our protocol does not require hospitalization and is cost saving.

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