Article Abstract

Chest drain and thoracotomy for chest trauma

Authors: Pietro Bertoglio, Francesco Guerrera, Andrea Viti, Alberto Claudio Terzi, Enrico Ruffini, Paraskevas Lyberis, Pier Luigi Filosso


Traumas are the leading cause of death in the first four decades of life. Nevertheless, thoracic traumas only seldom require invasive procedures. In particular, chest drain placement is required in case of pleural disruption causing haemothorax, pneumothorax or haemopneumothorax. Although large-bore chest drains have been traditionally used in case of haemothorax, recent evidences seem to question this routine, showing good performances of small-bore and pig tail drains. Although it is a common procedures, experience and training is needed to avoid complications which might be even lethal. Surgical exploration after thoracic trauma is rare, accounting for less than 3% of traumas. Penetrating traumas more likely require surgical exploration compared to blunt trauma. Anterolateral thoracotomy is usually performed in this setting, but also clamshell or hemi-clamshell approach can be used. In selected patients, minimally invasive techniques can be performed. Large randomized trials are still needed to assess and standardized the role of new tools and procedures in the thoracic trauma setting.