Reducing Iatrogenic Pneumothoraces: Using Real-Time Ultrasound Guidance for Pleural Procedures

Crit Care Med. 2019 Jul;47(7):903-909. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000003761.


Objectives: Awareness of the impact of bedside ultrasound to reduce iatrogenic pneumothoraces while performing bedside pleural procedures has increased but with little understanding in how ultrasound is used for these procedures.

Design and setting: We conducted a retrospective chart review at a tertiary referral center in the United States from January 1, 2014, to March 31, 2017. Our study assessed adverse effect rates between real-time ultrasound-guided and ultrasound-marked thoracenteses and thoracostomy tube placements.

Patients: Three-hundred ninety-four ICU patients were included in this study.

Measurements and main results: There was a significant difference in the rate of adverse effects between real-time ultrasound-guided (0.63% [95% CI, 0.11-3.4%]) and ultrasound-marked (6.89% [95% CI, 4.15-11.24%]; p ≤ 0.01) procedures. More specifically, the rate of pneumothoraces was different between the two procedures (0.63% [95% CI, 0.11-3.4%] vs 4.43% [95% CI, 2.35-8.21%]; p = 0.02). In patients mechanically ventilated, there was a significant difference in overall adverse effect rates between groups of ultrasound use (p = 0.01).

Conclusions: The use of real-time ultrasound guidance was associated with a lower rate of iatrogenic pneumothoraces.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumothorax / etiology*
  • Pneumothorax / prevention & control
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Respiration, Artificial / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Thoracentesis / adverse effects*
  • Thoracentesis / methods
  • Thoracostomy / adverse effects*
  • Thoracostomy / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*