Needle aspiration as first-line management of primary spontaneous pneumothorax

Presse Med. 2006 May;35(5 Pt 1):765-8. doi: 10.1016/s0755-4982(06)74687-5.


Background: Initial management of primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP) remains a topic of debate. Recent guidelines recommend needle aspiration as the initial strategy for large PSP, but chest tube drainage is still widely used.

Methods: Over a six-year period, we used needle aspiration in all cases of large PSP at our center to assess this technique's efficacy in real-life clinical practice. Our prospective study in the pulmonary intensive care unit of a 680-bed university hospital included patients with a PSP greater than 20%, as estimated by the Light's index. Needle aspiration, performed after local anesthesia, used a plastic intravenous catheter. If it failed, we performed thoracic drainage.

Results: The study included 35 patients. The initial success rate of needle aspiration was 69% (n=24/35), the one-week success rate 63% (n=22/35), and the one-year rate 51% (n=18/35). Tolerance of needle aspiration was good except for transient vagal reaction in four patients. No risk factors (age, body mass index, delay before hospitalization, previous pneumothorax, or Light index at inclusion) predicted initial failure of needle aspiration.

Conclusion: Our results confirmed that needle aspiration is an attractive therapeutic option for patients with large PSP: success was observed in approximately two thirds of cases.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needles*
  • Pneumothorax / therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Suction / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome