Although most patients with pneumonia do not need invasive therapy, it may be necessary in patients with abscesses, empyema, or certain other complications.
Chest tubes are used to drain infected pleural fluid. Tubes are not typically required for pneumonia or abscesses. The tubes are inserted after the patient is given a local anesthetic. They remain in place for 2 - 4 days, and are removed in one quick movement. This can be very distressing, although some patients experience no discomfort. Complications of chest tubes include:
- Accidental injury to the lung
- Fluid build-up within the lung if the pleural fluid is removed too rapidly
- Perforation of the diaphragm
Removing the chest tubes may cause the lung to collapse. In this case, a chest tube may be needed to inflate the lung.
|Click the icon to see an illustrated series detailing chest tube insertion.|
Review Date: 04/13/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.