Intercostal Tube Drainage

Negative pressure in the pleural space is vital for healthy respiration. The negative pressure is disturbed by fluid or air accumulation in the pleural space. It results in reduced compression and collapse of the lungs during exhalation. The chest drainage tube drains the fluid (blood or water) and normalizes the negative pressure in the pleural space.

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  • Types of Chest Tubes: Intercostal drainage tubes are made of clear plastics, such as soft silicone and PVC. They are available in different sizes (external diameter), ranging from 6 Fr to 40 Fr. There are several side holes on the tube (generally six side holes). The tube is divided into a tip, body, and tail.
  • Procedure for Insertion: The head of the patient is elevated, and the hand of the affected side is placed below the head. The site of insertion is cleaned with chlorhexidine or povidone-iodine solution. The doctor, under the effect of anesthesia, makes an incision to access the pleural space. The tube is inserted into the chest cavity and sutured.
  • Management of Complications: The procedure may have certain complications, such as air leaks, emphysema, or bleeding, that may be managed through appropriate treatment.
  • Removal of Chest Tube: The doctor removes the tube in cases of complete drainage or tube blockage. The sutures are cut, and the tube is slowly pulled out of the pleural space. The patients may experience slight discomfort during the tube removal procedure.
  • Post-removal Recovery: The medical staff should monitor the patients for any signs of complications, such as swelling, pus, discharge, or bleeding at the incision site.