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PMCID: PMC3097020 DOI: 10.1089/lap.2008.0090.supp


PURPOSE: Historically, a chest tube or drain has been left following a thoracic operation to allow drainage of air or fluid in the postoperative period. However, in patients undergoing thoracoscopy, the tube is often the greatest source of postoperative pain. We began excluding chest tubes several years ago and therefore are reviewing our experience to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this approach.

METHODS: A retrospective review of the medical record was performed on patients undergoing thoracoscopy at two centers from 1993 to 2007. Patients who left the operating room without a chest tube were included in this series. Patient demographics, type of operation, and outcome were recorded.

RESULTS: A total of 333 thoracoscopic procedures were performed at the two institutions without the use of a chest tube. Ages ranged from 1 week to 39 years. Weight ranged from 1.3 kg to 117 kg. The cases performed included aortopexy, congenital diaphragmatic repair, excision of a bronchogenic cyst, exploratory thoracoscopy, lung biopsy, resection extralobar sequestration, Nuss procedure, patent ductus arteriosus ligation, resection/biopsy of mediastinal lesions, resection of esophageal duplication, excision of parathyroid adenoma, hiatal hernia repair, esophagomyotomy, and thymectomy. Within this group of thoracic operations, 176 patients underwent lung biopsy. Pulmonary lobectomy or segmentectomy patients were excluded. All patients had a chest radiograph in the recovery room. Only one developed a postoperative pneumothorax, which occurred on postoperative day 2 following reintubation for respiratory failure. This patient required repeat thoracoscopy.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of routine chest tubes following thoracoscopy in children appears to be unnecessary as the absence of a chest tube in our series resulted in an intervention in one patient (0.3%). Elimination of the chest tube will allow for a much more tolerable postoperative course in most children.

Journal Title

Journal of laparoendoscopic & advanced surgical techniques. Part A


19 Suppl 1

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MeSH Keywords

Adolescent; Adult; Biopsy; Chest Tubes; Child; Child, Preschool; Humans; Infant; Infant, Newborn; Lung; Retrospective Studies; Thoracoscopy


Chest tube; Biopsy