Purpose: Prolonged air or fluid chest tube drainage may delay chest tube removal in thoracic surgery patients otherwise ready for discharge. We reviewed 20 months of experience at our institution with postoperative, outpatient chest tube management using a new portable chest tube device. Description: From May 2003 to December 2004, 457 major thoracic procedures were performed at our institution. Besides excessive chest tube output or air leak, 50 patients met the criteria for discharge. There were 36 patients who were discharged with a new portable chest tube system (Express Mini 500; Atrium Medical Corp, Hudson, NH). Patients received written instructions and demonstrated competence on system use. Patients returned for chest tube removal after satisfactory resolution of air leak or fluid drainage. Evaluation: Postoperative outpatient chest tube management accounted for 404 days. There were no major complications. Four patients experienced minor complications. Thirty-two patients (89%) experienced uneventful and successful outpatient chest tube management. Conclusions: These data suggest that successful postoperative outpatient chest tube management can be accomplished in select patients. This program resulted in substantial hospital cost reduction and enhanced patient satisfaction by allowing earlier discharge.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine