A chest tube is a plastic tube that is used to drain fluid or air from the chest. Air or fluid (for example blood or pus) that collects in the space between the lungs and chest wall (the pleural space) can cause the lung to collapse. Chest tubes can be inserted at the end of a surgical procedure while a patient is still asleep from anesthesia or at the bedside using a local pain killer and some sedation.
Chest tubes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Depending on what they are needed for, they can range in diameter. Chest tubes are usually connected to drainage systems that collect fluid and allow air to escape from the chest. You can also schedule an appointment via centese.com/thoracic-surgery for placing a thoracic drain tube after surgery.
These systems can be allowed to drain passively or can have suction applied to them. The main goal of this procedure is drainage of the pleural space. Patients can expect to see or feel the fluid or air leaving the chest. Often, patients may feel the collapsed lung re-expanding.
Like any surgical procedure, the primary risks with chest tube placement are bleeding and infection. Practitioners are careful to avoid the blood vessels that run on the underside of the ribs during placement.