Rescue Blanket as a Provisional Seal for Penetrating Chest Wounds in a New Ex Vivo Porcine Model

Ann Thorac Surg. 2022 Jul;114(1):280-285. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2021.06.083. Epub 2021 Aug 8.


Background: Open pneumothorax after a penetrating thorax trauma is a life-threatening disease with high mortality. An emergency application of a chest seal (CS) allowing the release of trapped air is the optimum initial therapy until surgical chest drainage is available.

Methods: In a newly developed experimental porcine model of open pneumothorax, we tested 3 different materials regarding their applicability for acute treatment of sucking chest wounds in prehospital emergency care, namely a commonly used rescue blanket (RB), plastic foil from a gauze package (packing material), and a commercial CS.

Results: An ex vivo open pneumothorax model using a porcine chest wall and a vacuum-assisted drainage system was successfully established. RB segments sized 70 × 100 mm achieved significantly higher rates of successful sealing than plastic foils from a gauze package sized 100 × 100 mm when the devices were applied to the moistened chest wall and fixed on 3 sides (5/5 [100%] vs 0/5 [0%], respectively; P = .002). Loosely fixed RBs efficiently released injected air (10/10 [100%]) and consequently sealed the wound in all cases (10/10).

Conclusions: RBs, applied wet, are appropriate CSs with good occlusive and adherence properties. Fixation on 2 sides of the dressing is sufficient to allow trapped air to exit while providing appropriate sealing of the chest wound. RBs were superior to plastic foils from a gauze package and were seen to function as a potent makeshift CS when no commercial CS is available.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Plastics
  • Pneumothorax* / therapy
  • Swine
  • Thoracic Injuries* / surgery
  • Thorax
  • Wounds, Penetrating*


  • Plastics