Background: Analog chest drainage systems (ACS) are generally used to monitor postoperative alveolar air leakage (PAL) after lung resection. An electronic digital chest drainage system (DCS) has recently been developed that reportedly has several advantages over the traditional ACS. Here, we report a single institution's experience of PAL management with the DCS. We also sought to establish whether DCS had superior clinical benefits and outcomes compared with ACS.
Methods: We enrolled 112 consecutive patients who underwent lung resection and were subsequently managed with DCS. We compared PAL rate, duration of chest drainage, and the incidence of complications with a group of 121 consecutive patients previously managed with ACS after lung resection, using propensity score matching.
Results: Mean maximum and minimum PAL rates during DCS chest drainage were 48.9 ml/min (range: 2.0-868.6 ml/min) and 0.1 ml/min (0.0-1.2 ml/min), respectively. Mean PAL rate at DCS removal was 1.3 ml/min (0.0-10.0 ml/min). After propensity score matching, mean duration of chest drainage was significantly shorter with DCS than ACS (2.7 days, range: 1-9 days, compared with 3.7 days, range: 1-21 days, respectively; P = 0.031).
Conclusions: Managing PAL with DCS after pulmonary resection appears to reduce the duration of chest drainage.