A tube thoracostomy unit
A thoracostomy is a small incision of the chest wall, with maintenance of the opening for drainage.It is most commonly used for the treatment of a pneumothorax. This is performed by physicians, emergency response nurses, and paramedics, usually via needle thoracostomy, or with a thoracostomy tube (chest tube).
A thoracostomy is often confused with thoracotomy, which is a larger incision commonly used to gain access to organs within the chest.
When air, blood, or other fluids accumulate in the pleural cavity it may be drained by thoracostomy. Whereas air in this space (pneumothorax) may be released by needle thoracostomy, other substances require drainage with a thoracostomy tube.
There are no absolute contraindications to thoracostomy. There are relative contraindications (such as coagulopathies); however, in an emergency setting these are outweighed by the necessity to re-inflate a collapsed lung by draining fluid/air from the space around the lung.
Drainage of the pleural cavity is achieved by the surgeon making a primary incision in the skin followed by a second incision through the muscle between the ribs. This way a tube may be guided into the chest to allow for drainage. Chest tubes are designed to collect this drainage and prevent anything from leaking back into the pleural space. This is accomplished by a check valve, usually part of a specialized drainage system with an underwater seal. Depending on the amount of air/fluid to be drained, the collection bottle may need to be periodically changed.
Rare complications are mostly due to placement technique, inexperience of the interventionist, and emergent vs. elective circumstances. The most common complications are recurrent pneumothorax (incomplete recovery, but an expected course), infection, and organ injury (due to mechanical damage).
Esophageal injury is rare. If saliva and chyme contents drain from the chest tube, that should raise suspicion of esophageal injury. The main treatment of esophageal injury is surgical repair. The stomach is also rarely injured. Proper technique and not using a trocar during the procedure decreases the risk of this from occurring.
The pleural cavity also known as the pleural space, is the thin fluid-filled space between the two pulmonary pleurae of each lung. A pleura is a serous membrane which folds back onto itself to form a two-layered membranous pleural sac. The outer pleura is attached to the chest wall, but is separated from it by the endothoracic fascia. The inner pleura covers the lungs and adjoining structures, including blood vessels, bronchi and nerves. The pleural cavity can be viewed as a potential space because the two pleurae adhere to each other under all normal conditions.
A pneumothorax is an abnormal collection of air in the pleural space between the lung and the chest wall. Symptoms typically include sudden onset of sharp, one-sided chest pain and shortness of breath. In a minority of cases, a one-way valve is formed by an area of damaged tissue, and the amount of air in the space between chest wall and lungs increases; this is called a tension pneumothorax. This can cause a steadily worsening oxygen shortage and low blood pressure and unless reversed can be fatal. Very rarely, both lungs may be affected by a pneumothorax. It is often called a "collapsed lung", although that term may also refer to atelectasis.
Pleurisy, also known as pleuritis, is inflammation of the membranes that surround the lungs and line the chest cavity (pleurae). This can result in a sharp chest pain while breathing. Occasionally the pain may be a constant dull ache. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, cough, fever or weight loss, depending on the underlying cause.
A pleural effusion is excess fluid that accumulates in the pleural cavity, the fluid-filled space that surrounds the lungs. This excess fluid can impair breathing by limiting the expansion of the lungs. Various kinds of pleural effusion, depending on the nature of the fluid and what caused its entry into the pleural space, are hydrothorax, hemothorax (blood), urinothorax (urine), chylothorax (chyle), or pyothorax (pus) commonly known as pleural empyema. In contrast, a pneumothorax is the accumulation of air in the pleural space, and is commonly called a "collapsed lung".
Pleurodesis is a medical procedure in which the pleural space is artificially obliterated. It involves the adhesion of the two pleurae.
A chest tube is a flexible plastic tube that is inserted through the chest wall and into the pleural space or mediastinum. It is used to remove air (pneumothorax), fluid, or pus (empyema) from the intrathoracic space. It is also known as a Bülau drain or an intercostal catheter.
A thoracotomy is a surgical procedure to gain access into the pleural space of the chest. It is performed by surgeons to gain access to the thoracic organs, most commonly the heart, the lungs, or the esophagus, or for access to the thoracic aorta or the anterior spine. The purpose of a thoracotomy is the first step used to facilitate thoracic surgeries including lobectomy or pneumonectomy for lung cancer or to gain thoracic access in major trauma.
A hemothorax is an accumulation of blood within the pleural cavity. The symptoms of a hemothorax include chest pain and difficulty breathing, while the clinical signs include reduced breath sounds on the affected side and a rapid heart rate. Hemothoraces are usually caused by an injury but may occur spontaneously: due to cancer invading the pleural cavity, as a result of a blood clotting disorder, as an unusual manifestation of endometriosis, in response to a collapsed lung, or rarely in association with other conditions.
A chylothorax is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the space surrounding the lung. Lymph formed in the digestive system is called chyle and accumulates in the pleural space due to either disruption or obstruction of the thoracic duct. In people on a normal diet, this fluid collection can sometimes be identified by its turbid, milky white appearance, since chyle contains triglycerides. It is important to distinguish a chylothorax from a pseudochylothorax, which has a similar appearance, but is caused by more chronic inflammatory processes, and requires a different treatment.
Thoracentesis, also known as thoracocentesis or pleural tap, is an invasive procedure to remove fluid or air from the pleural space for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. A cannula, or hollow needle, is carefully introduced into the thorax, generally after administration of local anesthesia. The procedure was first performed by Morrill Wyman in 1850 and then described by Henry Ingersoll Bowditch in 1852.
Respiratory diseases, or lung diseases, are pathological conditions affecting the organs and tissues that make gas exchange difficult in air-breathing animals. They include conditions of the respiratory tract including the trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, pleurae, pleural cavity, and the nerves and muscles of respiration. Respiratory diseases range from mild and self-limiting, such as the common cold, to life-threatening diseases such as bacterial pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, acute asthma and lung cancer.
Hemopneumothorax, or haemopneumothorax is the condition of having air in the chest cavity (pneumothorax) and blood in the chest cavity (hemothorax). A hemothorax, pneumothorax, or the combination of both can occur due to an injury to the lung or chest.
Lobectomy of the lung is a surgical operation where a lobe of the lung is removed. It is done to remove a portion of diseased lung, such as early stage lung cancer.
A pulmonary laceration is a chest injury in which lung tissue is torn or cut. An injury that is potentially more serious than pulmonary contusion, pulmonary laceration involves disruption of the architecture of the lung, while pulmonary contusion does not. Pulmonary laceration is commonly caused by penetrating trauma but may also result from forces involved in blunt trauma such as shear stress. A cavity filled with blood, air, or both can form. The injury is diagnosed when collections of air or fluid are found on a CT scan of the chest. Surgery may be required to stitch the laceration, to drain blood, or even to remove injured parts of the lung. The injury commonly heals quickly with few problems if it is given proper treatment; however it may be associated with scarring of the lung or other complications.
Subcutaneous emphysema occurs when gas or air travels under the skin. Subcutaneous refers to the tissue beneath the skin, and emphysema refers to trapped air. Since the air generally comes from the chest cavity, subcutaneous emphysema usually occurs on the chest, neck and face, where it is able to travel from the chest cavity along the fascia. Subcutaneous emphysema has a characteristic crackling-feel to the touch, a sensation that has been described as similar to touching Rice Krispies; This sensation of air under the skin is known as subcutaneous crepitation, a form of Crepitus.
Plural disease occurs in the pleural space, which is the thin fluid-filled area in between the two pulmonary pleurae in the human body, there are several disorders that can occur
Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is a type of thoracic surgery performed using a small video camera that is introduced into the patient's chest via small incisions. The surgeon is able to view the instruments that are being used along with the anatomy on which the surgeon is operating. The camera and instruments are inserted through separate holes in the chest wall also known as "ports". These small ports are advantageous because the chance for infection and wound dehiscence are drastically reduced. This allows for a faster recovery by the patient and a greater chance for the wound to heal.
A resuscitative thoracotomy is a thoracotomy performed to resuscitate a major trauma patient who has sustained severe thoracic or abdominal trauma and who has entered cardiac arrest because of this. The procedure allows immediate direct access to the thoracic cavity, permitting rescuers to control hemorrhage, relieve cardiac tamponade, repair or control major injuries to the heart, lungs or thoracic vasculature, and perform direct cardiac massage or defibrillation. For most persons with thoracic trauma the procedure is not necessary; only 15% of those with thoracic injury require the procedure.
Tracheal deviation is a clinical sign that results from unequal intrathoracic pressure within the chest cavity. It is most commonly associated with traumatic pneumothorax, but can be caused by a number of both acute and chronic health issues, such as pneumonectomy, atelectasis, pleural effusion, fibrothorax, or some cancers and certain lymphomas associated with the mediastinal lymph nodes.
The Eloesser flap is a surgical procedure developed by Dr. Leo Eloesser in 1935 at the San Francisco General Hospital. It was originally intended to aid with drainage of tuberculous empyemas, since at the time there were no effective medications to treat tuberculosis. The procedure was used extensively until the development of effective chemotherapy for tuberculosis in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It is still used occasionally for chronic empyemas.