Large-bore and small-bore chest tubes: types, function, and placement

Thorac Surg Clin. 2013 Feb;23(1):17-24, v. doi: 10.1016/j.thorsurg.2012.10.006.


Chest tubes are placed in the pleural space, either surgically or percutaneously to evacuate abnormal fluid and air. Indications for chest tubes include therapeutic drainage of pleural conditions such as pneumothorax, hemothorax, empyema, chylothorax, and malignant effusions, as well as prophylaxis drainage of air, blood, and other fluids after chest surgery. This article characterizes the types of chest tubes, reviews the basic techniques for insertion, and describes the comparative effectiveness between large-bore and small-bore chest tubes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chest Tubes / adverse effects
  • Chest Tubes / classification*
  • Chylothorax / therapy
  • Drainage / instrumentation*
  • Drainage / methods
  • Empyema / therapy
  • Equipment Design
  • Hemothorax / therapy
  • Humans
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / therapy
  • Pneumothorax / therapy*