The Society for Translational Medicine: clinical practice guidelines for the postoperative management of chest tube for patients undergoing lobectomy

J Thorac Dis. 2017 Sep;9(9):3255-3264. doi: 10.21037/jtd.2017.08.165.


The Society for Translational Medicine and The Chinese Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery conducted a systematic review of the literature in an attempt to improve our understanding in the postoperative management of chest tubes of patients undergoing pulmonary lobectomy. Recommendations were produced and classified based on an internationally accepted GRADE system. The following recommendations were extracted in the present review: (I) chest tubes can be removed safely with daily pleural fluid of up to 450 mL (non-chylous and non-sanguinous), which may reduce chest tube duration and hospital length of stay (2B); (II) in rare instances, e.g., persistent abundant fluid production, the use of PrRP/B <0.5 when evaluating fluid output to determine chest tube removal might be beneficial (2B); (III) it is recommended that one chest tube is adequate following pulmonary lobectomy, except for hemorrhage and space problems (2A); (IV) chest tube clearance by milking and stripping is not recommended after lung resection (2B); (V) chest tube suction is not necessary for patients undergoing lobectomy after first postoperative day (2A); (VI) regulated chest tube suction [-11 (-1.08 kPa) to -20 (1.96 kPa) cmH2O depending upon the type of lobectomy] is not superior to regulated seal [-2 (0.196 kPa) cmH2O] when electronic drainage systems are used after lobectomy by thoracotomy (2B); (VII) chest tube removal recommended at the end of expiration and may be slightly superior to removal at the end of inspiration (2A); (VIII) electronic drainage systems are recommended in the management of chest tube in patients undergoing lobectomy (2B).

Keywords: Chest tube; GRADE system; drainage system; lobectomy; recommendation.

Publication types

  • Review