The pigtail catheter for pleural drainage: a less invasive alternative to tube thoracostomy

JSLS. Jan-Mar 1999;3(1):57-61.

Abstract

Background: Tube thoracostomy remains the standard of care for the treatment of pneumothoraces and simple effusions. This report describes a favorable experience with the 8.3 French pigtail catheter as a less invasive alternative to traditional chest tube insertion.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 109 consecutive pigtail catheter placements. Catheters were inserted under local anesthesia at the bedside without radiographic guidance. Pre- and post-insertion chest radiographs were reviewed to determine efficacy of drainage.

Results: Fifty-one of 109 patients (47%) were mechanically ventilated and 26 patients (24%) had a coagulopathy. There were no complications related to pigtail catheter insertion. Seventy-seven pigtail catheters were placed for pleural effusion and 32 for pneumothorax. Mean effusion volume decreased from 43 to 9 percent, and drainage averaged 2899 ml over 97 hours. Mean pneumothorax size diminished from 38 to 1 percent during an average 71-hour placement. Clinical success rates in the effusion and pneumothorax groups were 86 and 81 percent, respectively.

Conclusion: The pigtail catheter offers reliable treatment of pneumothoraces and simple effusions and is a safe and less invasive alternative to tube thoracostomy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catheterization / instrumentation*
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion / therapy*
  • Pneumothorax / therapy*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracostomy*
  • Treatment Outcome