Simple Aspiration Versus Drainage for Complete Pneumothorax: A Randomized Non-Inferiority Trial

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2023 Jan 24. doi: 10.1164/rccm.202110-2409OC. Online ahead of print.


Rationale: Management of first episodes of primary spontaneous pneumothorax remains the subject of debate.

Objectives: To determine whether first-line simple aspiration is non-inferior to first-line chest tube drainage for lung expansion in patients with complete primary spontaneous pneumothorax.

Method: A prospective open label randomized non-inferiority trial. Adults aged 18-50 years with complete primary spontaneous pneumothorax (total separation of the lung from the chest wall), recruited at 31 French hospitals from 2009 to 2015, received simple aspiration (n=200) or chest tube drainage (n=202) as first-line treatment. Primary outcome was pulmonary expansion 24h after the procedure. Secondary outcomes were tolerance of treatment, occurrence of adverse events and recurrence of pneumothorax within 1 year. Due to substantial discordance in the numerical inputs used for trial planning and the actual trial rates of the primary outcome resulted in a reevaluation of the trial analysis plan.

Clinicaltrials: gov number: NCT01008228.

Measurement and main results: Treatment failure within was 29% in the aspiration group and 18% in the chest tube drainage group (difference in failure rate: 0.113, 0.026-0.200). The aspiration group had experienced less pain overall (mean difference: -1.4 (-1.89; -0.91)), less pain limiting breathing (frequency difference: -0.18 (-0.27; -0.09)), and less kinking of the device (frequency difference: -0.05 (-0.09; -0.01). Recurrence of pneumothorax was 20% in this group versus 27% in the drainage group (frequency difference: -0.07 (-0.16; +0.02)).

Conclusions: First-line management of complete primary spontaneous pneumothorax with simple aspiration presented higher failure rate than chest tube drainage but was better tolerated with fewer adverse events. Clinical trial registration available at www.

Clinicaltrials: gov, ID: NCT01008228.

Keywords: chest tube drainage; first line strategy; primary spontaneous pneumothorax; simple aspiration.

Associated data