Outpatient treatment of spontaneous pneumothorax in a community hospital using a Heimlich flutter valve: a case series

J Emerg Med. 1997 Jan-Feb;15(1):115-9. doi: 10.1016/s0736-4679(97)86442-6.


This is a case series of 14 consecutive patients treated as outpatients for spontaneous pneumothorax (SP) (1 January 1992 to 31 December 1995) by one surgeon in a community hospital setting. The purpose of this study was to examine the appropriateness and financial implications of routine outpatient management of SP with closed tube thoracostomy and the Heimlich valve. All 14 patients reviewed were successfully managed as outpatients, although 3 required an overnight admission because of anxiety, pain, or vasovagal reaction. The routine outpatient treatment of all cases of SP not requiring definitive surgical intervention may have saved more than $16,000.00 for the hospital and an estimated $500,000.00 for the province of Ontario during the 1993-1994 fiscal year. Our findings suggest that the Heimlich valve is an appropriate alternative for the management of SP in a nonteaching community hospital setting, with benefits to the patient and to the health care system.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care* / economics
  • Ambulatory Care* / methods
  • Drainage
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Community / economics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumothorax / therapy*