Home > Journals > Minerva Surgery > Past Issues > Minerva Chirurgica 1999 October;54(10) > Minerva Chirurgica 1999 October;54(10):697-702



Publishing options
To subscribe
Submit an article
Recommend to your librarian





Minerva Chirurgica 1999 October;54(10):697-702


language: Italian

Emergency tube thoracostomy for acute trauma

Bergaminelli C., De Angelis P., Gauthier P., Salzano A., Vecchio G.


A group of 191 cases of emergency tube thoracostomy for acute trauma reviewed retrospectively from March 1993 to March 1998 is reported. Of this group 169 were men and 22 were women. Their ages ranged from 16 to 73 years. The causes were as follows: 89 cases (46%) road accident; 33 cases (17%) accidental trauma; 33 cases (17%) someone else violence (assault, gunshot or stabwound); 15 cases (8%) work accident; 11 cases (6%) domestic accident and 5 cases (3%) iatrogenic trauma. In 32 patients a diagnosis of pneumothorax was made (2 tension, 11 for penetrating chest injuries, 19 after blunt trauma). In 2 cases of tension pneumothorax and in 3 cases of open pneumothorax a chest tube (24-28 Fr) in the third space in the midclavicular line was introduced. In the other patients it was decided to place a chest tube in the midaxillary line in the fifth intercostal space to drain pneumothorax. Only in 7 cases suction was necessary. Fifty-four hemothorax (3 bilateral) were treated in 11 cases using thoracentesis, while the remaining cases were treated using the insertion of multiple drainage holes in the intercostal space (fifth in the midaxillary line directed inferiorly and posteriorly). One hundred and three were the cases of hemopneumothorax: 24 of them received 2 chest tubes, the first (20-26 Fr) apically in the second intercostal space in the midclavicular line, the second (32-38 Fr) in the fifth intercostal space in the midaxillary line. All the other cases were treated using a single thoracostomy. In 14 cases suction was applied. Two cases of chylothorax resolved by a large tube positioned in the chest (fifth intercostal space in the midaxillary line) with a costant negative pressure were also observed. Duration of tube drainage ranged from 4 and 18 days, with an average of 11 days. Five infections of thoracostomy site and 1 empiema resolved by rethoracotomy were observed. Moreover, there were 3 complications: 2 subcutaneous placements and 1 little laceration of the lung. Thirty-one drained patients were operated: in 5 cases thoracotomy and laparotomy (2 exitus in tabula); only thoracotomy in 8 cases; 19 laparotomy and thoracostomy (1 exitus in tabula).

top of page