Indications and morbidity of tube thoracostomy performed for traumatic and non-traumatic free pleural effusions in a low-income setting

Alain Chichom Mefire, Marcus Fokou, Louis Din Dika
Pan African Medical Journal 2014, 18: 256

INTRODUCTION: Tube thoracostomy (TT) is widely used to resolve a number of pleural conditions. Few data are available on the complications of TT performed for non-traumatic conditions, especially in low income setting. The aim of this study is to analyse the indications and complications of TT performed for both traumatic and non-traumatic conditions of the chest in a low-income environment.

METHODS: This retrospective study conducted over a four years period in a the Regional Hospital, Limbe in South-West Cameroon analyses the rate and nature of complications after TT performed for both traumatic and non-traumatic conditions. Different factors related to complications are analysed.

RESULTS: We analysed 134 patients who had 186 chest tubes inserted. After placement, tubes were either connected to a water seal system (40%) or submitted to suction (60%). Most (91%) procedures were performed for a non-traumatic condition. Non-infectious pleural effusion in patients with HIV infection or pulmonary tuberculosis was the most common indication. Sixty six per-cents of procedures were carried out by a general surgeon. The complication rate was 19.35%. The most common complications included tube dislocation and pneumothorax. Most complications were solved by replacement of the tube. The nature of operator (general surgeon vs general practitioner) was a significant predictor of outcome (p < 0.01). No procedure related death was recorded.

CONCLUSION: TT is a safe and efficient procedure to drain pleural collections of both traumatic and non-traumatic origins, even in low-income settings. The incidence of complications could be reduced by a better training of general practitioners on this procedure.

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