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Chest Tube Aspiration

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Megan Brashear, CVT, VTS (ECC), shows how to manually evacuate a chest tube.

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Megan Brashear's picture
Megan Brashear

CVT VTS(ECC)

Enrolled: 07/2011

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Justin Anderson's picture

How do you prevent clots within the chest tube with the fluid remaining in the tubing?

Megan Brashear's picture

Justin, it is possible to get fibrin clots in a chest tube but rarely blood clots. There should not be continued bleeding within the chest to cause clots. In some pyothorax cases I have seen fibrin clots and if that happens the tube must be removed. The amount of blood remaining in the tube between aspiration is not usually enough to form troublesome clots.

Nicole Candelieri's picture

Once you get negative pressure and turn the 3 way stopcock off to the patient, would it be ok to empty the fluid content trough the third available port on the 3 way stopcock instead of disconnecting the syringe?

Megan Brashear's picture

Nicole, yes of course, depending on personal preference (and for me, patient compliance!) you can certainly turn the stopcock off to the chest tube and then empty the fluid (or air) through the open stopcock port. My biggest consideration for disconnecting the syringe is patient comfort. Chest tubes are known to be quite painful, especially with manipulation. If you are emptying through the stopcock into a container for fluid, you may have to move the tube around to get the fluid into a bucket. Usually it's not a big deal, but always something in the back of my head with these patients.