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Why Do You Need a Chest Tube?

A chest tube thoracostomy is a procedure that inserts a hollow tube into the chest. This allows fluid to drain from the lungs. To aid in drainage, the tube is usually connected to a suction device. The tube is kept in the chest until the fluid or air has completely drained, which usually takes a few days.

Sometimes, special medicines can be given via a thoracic chest drain tube if the fluid or air doesn't resolve in a few days.

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A chest tube is often required for the following reasons:

  • Collapsed lung (pneumothorax)– This is when air builds up around the lungs (the Pleural Space) due to a leak in the lung. It could be a sign of lung disease. This can also happen as a result of some medical procedures. Sometimes, chest tubes are required to remove any air around the lungs. If there is persistent leakage or too much air, it can be fatal. The lung can re-expand by removing the air.
  • Infection – Sometimes fluid builds up around the lungs. It may be necessary to insert a chest tube to drain the fluid. Sometimes, removing the fluid can speed up the healing process. To determine the type of infection, a culture can be taken.
  • Comfort – A large accumulation of fluid or air can make it difficult for people to breathe. The fluid or air can be removed to reduce discomfort and make breathing easier.
  • Chest Surgery – Sometimes a tube for the chest is left in place following surgery. The surgeon will usually inform you if the tube is necessary and how long it should stay in place.