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Initial Chest Tube Management After Pulmonary Resection

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Tube thoracostomy management with suction or water seal after anatomical pulmonary resection remains somewhat controversial. Initial chest tube management may influence the duration of pleural fluid drainage, duration of tube thoracostomy, and/or hospital length of stay following pulmonary resection. We hypothesized that initial chest tube management with water seal decreases time for chest tube removal and decreases time of hospital stay. A retrospective chart review was performed on 109 consecutive patients who underwent lobectomy or segmentectomy in Western Pennsylvania Hospital between December 1999 and December 2003. Comparison was made between chest tube management of water seal or suction in patients with and without air leak. Of the 109 patients, 78 (72%) had no air leak at the completion of surgery, and 31 (28%) had air leak. In the group without air leak (n = 78), water seal was used in 32 (41%) patients and suction in 46 (59%). In patients placed to water seal initially after surgery (n = 32), removal of chest tubes was on postoperative day (POD) 3.19 ± 0.24 and hospital discharge was on POD 5.13 ± 0.61. In patients placed to suction initially (n = 46), chest tubes were removed on POD 4.52 ± 0.40. Hospital discharge was on POD 6.74 ± 0.5. Both duration of chest tube (P < 0.007) and length of hospital stay (P < 0.04) were significantly lower in the water seal group. In the air leak group (n = 31), 7 (23%) patients were managed with water seal and 24 (77%) patients with suction. Both duration of chest tube (P = 0.001) and length of hospital stay (P < 0.05) were significantly lower in the water seal group. In patients without air leak, chest tubes should be managed with water seal following anatomical pulmonary resection, resulting in significantly shorter chest tube duration and hospital length of stay.
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Keywords: Research Article

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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