Pigtail catheters vs large-bore chest tubes for management of secondary spontaneous pneumothoraces in adults

Am J Emerg Med. 2006 Nov;24(7):795-800. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2006.04.006.


It is still uncertain if large-bore chest tubes (20F-28F) is superior to pigtail catheter (10F-14F) in terms of the management of secondary spontaneous pneumothoraces (SSP). This study was designed to compare the efficacy and safety associated with placement of large-bore chest tubes vs pigtail catheters in adults experiencing the first episode of SSP. We conducted a retrospective chart review of 91 patients experiencing the first episode of SSP in a university hospital over a 3.5-year period who received treatment by either a large-bore chest tube or a pigtail catheter. Any patient who was younger than 18 years or experiencing mechanical ventilation-related barotraumas or pyopneumothorax was excluded from this study. Various parameters including demographical characteristics, size of pneumothorax, complications, time of pigtail or chest tube extubation, and length of hospital stay were collected and analyzed. Among the enrolled 91 patients, including 76 (83.5%) men with a mean age of 60 +/- 19 years, 69 were initially treated with a pigtail, and 22 patients received conventional chest tubes. Fifty patients (72.5%) undergoing the pigtail drainage and 16 (72.7%) undergoing large-bore chest tube treatment of SSP were successfully treated (P = .88). In addition, there was no significant difference in terms of length of hospital stay, extubation time, recurrence rate, and complication. Pigtail catheters offer a safe and effective alternative for large-bore chest tubes to adult patients experiencing the first episode of SSP, and we strongly suggested that pigtail tube drainage should be considered as the initial treatment of choice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catheterization*
  • Chest Tubes*
  • Drainage / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumothorax / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome