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Role of low-pressure negative pleural suction in patients with thoracic trauma - a randomized controlled trial.

BACKGROUND: Thoracic trauma frequently includes a pneumothorax, hemothorax, or hemopneumothorax, which may necessitate an Intercostal drainage (ICD) for air and fluid evacuation to improve breathing and circulatory function. It is a simple and life-saving procedure; nevertheless, it carries morbidity, even after its removal. Efforts have been made continuously to shorten the duration of ICD, but mostly in non-trauma patients. In this study, we evaluated the impact of negative pleural suction over the duration of ICD.

METHODS: This study was a prospective randomized controlled interventional trial conducted at Level 1 Trauma Centre. Thoracic trauma patients with ICD, who met the inclusion criteria (sample size 70) were randomized into two groups, the first group with negative pleural suction up to -20 cm H2O, and the second group as conventional, i.e. ICD connected to underwater seal container only. The primary objective was to compare the duration of ICDs and the secondary objectives were the length of hospital stay and various complications of thoracic trauma.

RESULTS: Duration of ICD was measured in median days with minimum & maximum days. For the negative suction group, it was 4 days (2-16 days); for the conventional group, it was also 4 days (2-17 days). There was also no significant difference among both groups in length of hospital stay.

CONCLUSION: The beneficial effect of negative pleural suction to ICD could not be demonstrated over the duration of ICD and hospital stay. In both groups, there was no significant difference in complication rates like recurrent pneumothorax, retained hemothorax, persistent air leak, and empyema.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Study, Level II TRIAL REGISTRATION: This trial was registered with the Clinical Trial Registry of India (CTRI) with registration no. REF/2020/11/038403.

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