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Health and Fitness

What is Chest Tube Placement (Thoracostomy)?

Thoracostomy inserts a thin plastic tube into the space between the lungs and the chest wall. The doctor may attach the tube to a suction device to remove excess fluid or air or, the doctor may use it to deliver medication into the space to decrease the likelihood that fluid will accumulate. This is called pleurodesis.

Your doctor may place a surgical thoracic chest tube to treat pneumothorax, also known as a collapsed lung. Certain conditions and diseases may cause excess air, blood, or extra fluid to collect in the pleural space. This may compress or collapse the lung, making it difficult to breathe. A chest tube helps remove the excess fluid or air and allows the lung to expand, making breathing easier.

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Your doctor may decide that you require long-term fluid drainage. If this is the case, you will receive a tunneled pleural drainage catheter.

A tunneled pleural drainage catheter is a thin plastic chest tube. Your doctor places the catheter into the pleural space by tunneling it (placing it) under the skin of your chest.

This catheter is a treatment option for removing continual accumulations of fluid within the pleural space due to conditions such as infections, metastatic cancers, liver disease, or advanced congestive heart failure. It is tunneled under your skin for long-term use (weeks to months) in removing pleural fluid.

The advantage of this catheter is that it avoids the need for repeating the pleural tap procedure to remove the re-accumulating pleural fluid. This catheter also provides a simple way for draining the pleural fluid at home on a regular, often daily, basis.