Basic ultrasound training can replace chest radiography for safe tube thoracostomy removal

Am Surg. 2014 Aug;80(8):783-6.


An ultrasound (US) examination can be easily and rapidly performed at the bedside to aide in clinical decisions. Previously we demonstrated that US was safe and as effective as a chest x-ray (CXR) for removal of tube thoracostomy (TT) when performed by experienced sonographers. This study sought to examine if US was as safe and accurate for the evaluation of pneumothorax (PTX) associated with TT removal after basic US training. Patients included had TT managed by the surgical team between October 2012 and May 2013. Bedside US was performed by a variety of members of the trauma team before and after removal. All residents received, at minimum, a 1-hour formal training class in the use of ultrasound. Data were collected from the electronic medical records. We evaluated 61 TTs in 61 patients during the study period. Exclusion of 12 tubes occurred secondary to having incomplete imaging, charting, or death before having TT removed. Of the 49 remaining TT, all were managed with US imaging. Average age of the patients was 40 years and 30 (61%) were male. TT was placed for PTX in 37 (76%), hemothorax in seven (14%), hemopneumothorax in four (8%), or a pleural effusion in one (2%). Two post pull PTXs were correctly identified by residents using US. This was confirmed on CXR with appropriate changes made. US was able to successfully predict the safe TT removal and patient discharge at all residency levels after receiving a basic US training program.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Device Removal*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumothorax / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracostomy / education
  • Thoracostomy / instrumentation*
  • Trauma Centers
  • Ultrasonics / education*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / standards*
  • Virginia