Tag Archives: pneumothorax


Pleurodesis for spontaneous pneumothorax?

A Taiwanese study demonstrated a lower recurrence rate when primary spontaneous pneumothoraces requiring drainage received pleurodesis using minocycline(1). However, significantly more pleurodesed patients required opioid analgesia, and the success rates were less than are found with surgical methods, which are recommended in the West, where pleurodesis is reserved for patients unfit for surgery(2).

1. Simple aspiration and drainage and intrapleural minocycline pleurodesis versus simple aspiration and drainage for the initial treatment of primary spontaneous pneumothorax: an open-label, parallel-group, prospective, randomised, controlled trial
Lancet. 2013 Apr 13;381(9874):1277-82


BACKGROUND: Simple aspiration and drainage is a standard initial treatment for primary spontaneous pneumothorax, but the rate of pneumothorax recurrence is substantial. We investigated whether additional minocycline pleurodesis after simple aspiration and drainage reduces the rate of recurrence.

METHODS: In our open-label, parallel-group, prospective, randomised, controlled trial at two hospitals in Taiwan, patients were aged 15-40 years and had a first episode of primary spontaneous pneumothorax with a rim of air greater than 2 cm on chest radiographs, complete lung expansion without air leakage after pigtail catheter drainage, adequate haematological function, and normal renal and hepatic function. After simple aspiration and drainage via a pigtail catheter, patients were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive 300 mg of minocycline pleurodesis or no further treatment (control group). Randomisation was by computer-generated random numbers in sealed envelopes. Our primary endpoint was rate of pneumothorax recurrence at 1 year. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00418392).

FINDINGS: Between Dec 31, 2006, and June 30, 2012, 214 patients were randomly assigned-106 to the minocycline group and 108 to the control group (intention-to-treat population). Treatment was unsuccessful within 7 days of randomisation in 14 patients in the minocycline group and 20 patients in the control group. At 1 year, pneumothoraces had recurred in 31 of 106 (29·2%) patients in the minocycline group compared with 53 of 108 (49·1%) in the control group (p=0·003). We noted no procedure-related complications in either group.

INTERPRETATION: Simple aspiration and drainage followed by minocycline pleurodesis is a safe and more effective treatment for primary spontaneous pneumothorax than is simple aspiration and drainage only. Minocycline pleurodesis should be an adjunct to standard treatment for primary spontaneous pneumothorax.

2. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax: to pleurodese or not?
Lancet. 2013 Apr 13;381(9874):1252-4

Needle decompression: it’s still not going to work

A pet topic that keeps coming up here is management of tension pneumothorax. Plenty of studies demonstrate that traditionally taught needle thoracostomy may fail, and open, or ‘finger’ thoracostomy is recommended for the emergency management of tension pneumothorax in a patient who is being ventilated with positive pressure (including those patients in cardiac arrest).

A recent CT scan-based study of adult trauma patients makes the case that needle decompression with a standard iv cannula would be expected to fail in 42.5% of cases at the second intercostal space (ICS) compared with 16.7% at the fifth ICS at the anterior axillary line (AAL).

The authors add an important point: “As BMI increases, there is a stepwise increase in chest wall thickness, further compounding the difficulty of needle placement in all but the lowest BMI quartile for the second ICS.”

An accompanying editorial cautions that the proximity of the heart may confer a safety issue if a needle is inserted blindly into the left 5th ICS at the AAL.


Objective To compare the distance to be traversed during needle thoracostomy decompression performed at the second intercostal space (ICS) in the midclavicular line (MCL) with the fifth ICS in the anterior axillary line (AAL).

Design Patients were separated into body mass index (BMI) quartiles, with BMI calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. From each BMI quartile, 30 patients were randomly chosen for inclusion in the study on the basis of a priori power analysis (n = 120). Chest wall thickness on computed tomography at the second ICS in the MCL was compared with the fifth ICS in the AAL on both the right and left sides through all BMI quartiles.

Setting Level I trauma center.

Patients Injured patients aged 16 years or older evaluated from January 1, 2009, to January 1, 2010, undergoing computed tomography of the chest.

Results A total of 680 patients met the study inclusion criteria (81.5% were male and mean age was 41 years [range, 16-97 years]). Of the injuries sustained, 13.2% were penetrating, mean (SD) Injury Severity Score was 15.5 (10.3), and mean BMI was 27.9 (5.9) (range, 15.4-60.7). The mean difference in chest wall thickness between the second ICS at the MCL and the fifth ICS at the AAL was 12.9 mm (95% CI, 11.0-14.8; P < .001) on the right and 13.4 mm (95% CI, 11.4-15.3; P < .001) on the left. There was a stepwise increase in chest wall thickness across all BMI quartiles at each location of measurement. There was a significant difference in chest wall thickness between the second ICS at the MCL and the fifth ICS at the AAL in all quartiles on both the right and the left. The percentage of patients with chest wall thickness greater than the standard 5-cm decompression needle was 42.5% at the second ICS in the MCL and only 16.7% at the fifth ICS in the AAL.

Conclusions In this computed tomography–based analysis of chest wall thickness, needle thoracostomy decompression would be expected to fail in 42.5% of cases at the second ICS in the MCL compared with 16.7% at the fifth ICS in the AAL. The chest wall thickness at the fifth ICS AAL was 1.3 cm thinner on average and may be a preferred location for needle thoracostomy decompression.

Radiologic evaluation of alternative sites for needle decompression of tension pneumothorax
Arch Surg. 2012 Sep 1;147(9):813-8

Is it time to abandon plain radiography in the trauma room?

For patients who will be having a chest CT, perhaps sonography could replace chest radiography in the resus room as the initial imaging step; this recent prospective study shows its superiority over the ‘traditional’ ATLS approach.

In haemodynamically stable patients with prophylactic pelvic splints in place, one could easily argue against plain pelvis films too (the caveat being rapid access to CT is necessary). The arguments against resus-room lateral cervical spine x-rays were made ages ago and these are now rarely done in the UK & Australia.

Is it time to abandon plain radiography altogether for stable major trauma patients?


Background: The accuracy of combined clinical examination (CE) and chest radiography (CXR) (CE + CXR) vs thoracic ultrasonography in the acute assessment of pneumothorax, hemothorax, and lung contusion in chest trauma patients is unknown.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, observational cohort study involving 119 adult patients admitted to the ED with thoracic trauma. Each patient, secured onto a vacuum mattress, underwent a subsequent thoracic CT scan after first receiving CE, CXR, and thoracic ultrasonography. The diagnostic performance of each method was also evaluated in a subgroup of 35 patients with hemodynamic and/or respiratory instability.

Results: Of the 237 lung fields included in the study, we observed 53 pneumothoraces, 35 hemothoraces, and 147 lung contusions, according to either thoracic CT scan or thoracic decompression if placed before the CT scan. The diagnostic performance of ultrasonography was higher than that of CE + CXR, as shown by their respective areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUC-ROC): mean 0.75 (95% CI, 0.67-0.83) vs 0.62 (0.54-0.70) in pneumothorax cases and 0.73 (0.67-0.80) vs 0.66 (0.61-0.72) for lung contusions, respectively (all P < .05). In addition, the diagnostic performance of ultrasonography to detect pneumothorax was enhanced in the most severely injured patients: 0.86 (0.73-0.98) vs 0.70 (0.61-0.80) with CE + CXR. No difference between modalities was found for hemothorax.


Conclusions: Thoracic ultrasonography as a bedside diagnostic modality is a better diagnostic test than CE and CXR in comparison with CT scanning when evaluating supine chest trauma patients in the emergency setting, particularly for diagnosing pneumothoraces and lung contusions.

Diagnostic accuracy of ultrasonography in the acute assessment of common thoracic lesions after trauma
Chest. 2012 May;141(5):1177-83

Lung ultrasound for pneumothorax by paramedics

This UK study showed that paramedics could successfully acquire and identify lung ultrasound images after a two day course. The course covered the identification and management of patients who present with serious thoracic injury, with a specific focus on the use of thoracic ultrasound during early prehospital assessment. Standard 2D images for pleural sliding and comet tails and M-Mode for the ‘seashore sign’ were acquired, and colour Doppler was also used to assist in the identification of pleural sliding.


Objective This trial investigated whether advanced paramedics from a UK regional ambulance service have the ability to acquire and interpret diagnostic quality ultrasound images following a 2-day programme of education and training covering the fundamental aspects of lung ultrasound.

Method The participants were tested using a two-part examination; assessing both their theoretical understanding of image interpretation and their practical ability to acquire diagnostic quality ultrasound images. The results obtained were subsequently compared with those obtained from expert physician sonographers.

Results The advanced paramedics demonstrated an overall accuracy in identifying the presence or absence of pneumothorax in M-mode clips of 0.94 (CI 0.86 to 0.99), compared with the experts who achieved 0.93 (CI 0.67 to 1.0). In two-dimensional mode, the advanced paramedics demonstrated an overall accuracy of 0.78 (CI 0.72 to 0.83), compared with the experts who achieved 0.76 (CI 0.62 to 0.86). In total, the advanced paramedics demonstrated an overall accuracy at identifying the presence or absence of pneumothorax in prerecorded video clip images of 0.82 (CI 0.77 to 0.86), in comparison
with the expert users of 0.80 (CI 0.68 to 0.88). All of the advanced paramedics passed the objective structured clinical examination and achieved a practical standard considered by the examiners to be equivalent to that which would be expected from candidates enrolled on the thoracic module of the College of Emergency Medicine level 2 ultrasound programme.

Conclusion This trial demonstrated that ultrasound-naive practitioners can achieve an acceptable standard of competency in a simulated environment in a relatively short period of time.

Acquisition and interpretation of focused diagnostic ultrasound images by ultrasound-naive advanced paramedics: trialling a PHUS education programme
Emerg Med J, 2012 vol. 29 (4) pp. 322-326

Prehospital thoracostomy tube misplacement

An interesting study from Germany examined prehospital thoracostomy tube (TT) placement by physicians working in the field. Of 69 patients who received them, 67 underwent prehospital intubation. 88 TT were placed in the 69 patients.

There were 19/88 (22%) radiologic chest tube misplacements (defined as too far in the chest, twisted, or bent). The position of 10/88 (11%) chest tubes had to be corrected. None of the patients with a TT had a “not-decompressed” pneumothorax or a chest tube placed below the diaphragm or into a solid organ.

Roughly half were placed in the ‘Monaldi’ position (the second or third intercostal space in the midclavicular line)…..

Monaldi position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…..and half in the Bülau position (fourth or fifth intercostal space in the midaxillary line).

Bülau position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was no difference in the misplacement rates between the two positions although interestingly helicopter doctors (as opposed to ground response) more often opted for the Monaldi position.

It is not possible to tell from the results whether the TT insertion was indicated in all cases. Also, it would be interesting to know whether TT insertion preceded or followed tracheal intubation. While it is heartening that these physicians do not routinely rely on needle decompression, I cannot fathom while simple open thoracostomy was not used, avoiding the risk of tube misplacement and saving time.

See this post for a more thorough review of open thoracostomy and the limitations of needle decompression.



Objectives. To evaluate the frequency of use, placement site, success and misplacement rates, and need for intervention for tube thoracostomies (TTs), and the complications with endotracheal intubation associated with TT in the prehospital setting.


Methods. We performed a five-year, retrospective study using the records of 1,065 patients who were admitted to the trauma emergency room at a university hospital and who had received chest radiographs or computed tomography (CT) scans within 30 minutes after admission.


Results. Seven percent of all patients received a TT (5% unilateral, 2% bilateral). Ninety-seven percent of all patients with a TT were endotracheally intubated. The success rate for correctly placed chest tubes was 78%. Twenty-two percent of the chest tubes were misplaced (i.e., too far in the chest, twisted, or bent); half of those had to be corrected, with one needing to be replaced. There were no statistical differences in the frequency of Monaldi or Bülau positions, or the frequency of left or right chest TT. In addition, the two positions did not differ in misplacement rates or the need for intervention. Helicopter emergency medical services physicians used the Monaldi position significantly more frequently than the Bülau position. In-hospital physicians performing interhospital transfer used the Bülau position significantly more frequently, whereas ground emergency medical physicians had a more balanced relationship between the two positions. Tube thoracostomy had no influence on endotracheal tube misplacement rates, and vice versa.


Conclusion. Tube thoracostomy positioning mostly depends on the discretion of the physician on scene. The Monaldi and Bülau positions do not differ in misplacement or complication rates.


Incidence And Outcome Of Tube Thoracostomy Positioning In Trauma Patients
Prehosp Emerg Care. 2011 Oct 3. [Epub ahead of print]

More on needle thoracostomy for tension pneumothorax

Thanks to Dr. Matthew Oliver for highlighting these articles to me.

The standard teaching of placing a handy iv catheter in the 2nd intercostal space, midclavicular line for tension pneumothorax has been challenged by previous studies suggesting about a third of adults have a chest wall that is too thick for a standard 4.5 to 5 cm needle.

Some have therefore suggested that a lateral approach may be more appropriate.

Three studies this month provide more, although not entirely consistent, information.

An ultrasound study differed from previous CT studies by suggesting that most patients will have chest wall thickness (CWT) less than 4.5 cm, and found that the CW was thicker in the lateral area (4th intercostal space, midaxillary line)1.

In a cadaveric model, needle thoracostomy was successfully placed (confirmed by thoracotomy) in all attempts at the fifth intercostal space at the midaxillary line but in only just over half of insertions at the traditional second intercostal position2.

In a further study of trauma CT scans, measured CWT suggests that the lateral approach is less likely to be successful than the anterior approach, and the anterior approach may fail in many patients as well3.

The take home message for us must therefore remain that needle thoracostomy for tension pneumothorax might not be successful with a standard iv catheter, regardless of which approach is used. If tension pneumothorax is a possibility in the deteriorating patient and needle decompression has been unsuccessful, an alternative means of decompression (or ruling out pneumothorax) must be employed.

1. Ultrasound determination of chest wall thickness: implications for needle thoracostomy
Am J Emerg Med. 2011 Nov;29(9):1173-7


Objective: Computed tomography measurements of chest wall thickness (CWT) suggest that standard- length angiocatheters (4.5 cm) may fail to decompress tension pneumothoraces. We used an alternative modality, ultrasound, to measure CWT. We correlated CWT with body mass index (BMI) and used national data to estimate the percentage of patients with CWT greater than 4.5 cm.

Methods: This was an observational, cross-sectional study of a convenience sample. We recorded standing height, weight, and sex. We measured CWT with ultrasound at the second intercostal space, midclavicular line and at the fourth intercostal space, midaxillary line on supine subjects. We correlated BMI (weight [in kilograms]/height2 [in square meters]) with CWT using linear regression. 95% Confidence intervals (CIs) assessed statistical significance. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey results for 2007-2008 were combined to estimate national BMI adult measurements.

Results: Of 51 subjects, 33 (65%) were male and 18 (35%) were female. Mean anterior CWT (male, 2.1 cm; CI, 1.9-2.3; female, 2.3 cm; CI, 1.7-2.7), lateral CWT (male, 2.4 cm; CI, 2.1-2.6; female, 2.5 cm; CI 2.0-2.9), and BMI (male, 27.7; CI, 26.1-29.3; female, 30.0; CI, 25.8-34.2) did not differ by sex. Lateral CWT was greater than anterior CWT (0.2 cm; CI, 0.1-0.4; P < .01). Only one subject with a BMI of 48.2 had a CWT that exceeded 4.5 cm. Using national BMI estimates, less than 1% of the US population would be expected to have CWT greater than 4.5 cm.


Conclusions: Ultrasound measurements suggest that most patients will have CWT less than 4.5 cm and that CWT may not be the source of the high failure rate of needle decompression in tension pneumothorax.

2. Anterior versus lateral needle decompression of tension pneumothorax: comparison by computed tomography chest wall measurement.
Acad Emerg Med. 2011 Oct;18(10):1022-6


Objectives:  Recent research describes failed needle decompression in the anterior position. It has been hypothesized that a lateral approach may be more successful. The aim of this study was to identify the optimal site for needle decompression.

Methods:  A retrospective study was conducted of emergency department (ED) patients who underwent computed tomography (CT) of the chest as part of their evaluation for blunt trauma. A convenience sample of 159 patients was formed by reviewing consecutive scans of eligible patients. Six measurements from the skin surface to the pleural surface were made for each patient: anterior second intercostal space, lateral fourth intercostal space, and lateral fifth intercostal space on the left and right sides.

Results:  The distance from skin to pleura at the anterior second intercostal space averaged 46.3 mm on the right and 45.2 mm on the left. The distance at the midaxillary line in the fourth intercostal space was 63.7 mm on the right and 62.1 mm on the left. In the fifth intercostal space the distance was 53.8 mm on the right and 52.9 mm on the left. The distance of the anterior approach was statistically less when compared to both intercostal spaces (p <  0.01).


Conclusions:  With commonly available angiocatheters, the lateral approach is less likely to be successful than the anterior approach. The anterior approach may fail in many patients as well. Longer angiocatheters may increase the chances of decompression, but would also carry a higher risk of damage to surrounding vital structures.

3. Optimal Positioning for Emergent Needle Thoracostomy: A Cadaver-Based Study
J Trauma. 2011 Nov;71(5):1099-1103/a>


Background:  Needle thoracostomy is an emergent procedure designed to relieve tension pneumothorax. High failure rates because of the needle not penetrating into the thoracic cavity have been reported. Advanced Trauma Life Support guidelines recommend placement in the second intercostal space, midclavicular line using a 5-cm needle. The purpose of this study was to evaluate placement in the fifth intercostal space, midaxillary line, where tube thoracostomy is routinely performed. We hypothesized that this would result in a higher successful placement rate.

Methods:  Twenty randomly selected unpreserved adult cadavers were evaluated. A standard 14-gauge 5-cm needle was placed in both the fifth intercostal space at the midaxillary line and the traditional second intercostal space at the midclavicular line in both the right and left chest walls. The needles were secured and thoracotomy was then performed to assess penetration into the pleural cavity. The right and left sides were analyzed separately acting as their own controls for a total of 80 needles inserted into 20 cadavers. The thickness of the chest wall at the site of penetration was then measured for each entry position.

Results:  A total of 14 male and 6 female cadavers were studied. Overall, 100% (40 of 40) of needles placed in the fifth intercostal space and 57.5% (23 of 40) of the needles placed in the second intercostal space entered the chest cavity (p < 0.001); right chest: 100% versus 60.0% (p = 0.003) and left chest: 100% versus 55.0% (p = 0.001). Overall, the thickness of the chest wall was 3.5 cm ± 0.9 cm at the fifth intercostal space and 4.5 cm ± 1.1 cm at the second intercostal space (p < 0.001). Both right and left chest wall thicknesses were similar (right, 3.6 cm ± 1.0 cm vs. 4.5 cm ± 1.1 cm, p = 0.007; left, 3.5 ± 0.9 cm vs. 4.4 cm ± 1.1 cm, p = 0.008).


Conclusions:In a cadaveric model, needle thoracostomy was successfully placed in 100% of attempts at the fifth intercostal space but in only 58% at the traditional second intercostal position. On average, the chest wall was 1 cm thinner at this position and may improve successful needle placement. Live patient validation of these results is warranted.

Update October 2012: See this post about a further CT-scan based study favouring the 5th ICS compared with the 2nd

Tension pneumo treatment and chest wall thickness

An interesting ultrasound-based study challenges the assertion that a significant proportion of adults have a chest wall that is too thick for a standard iv cannula to reach the pleural space when attempting to decompress a tension pneumothorax. Perhaps there are other factors that make this technique so frequently ineffective.

The authors postulate that ultrasound measurements of chest wall thickness might be less than those obtained by CT scan due to the downward pressure on the tissues caused when the ultrasound transducer is placed on the chest, something that may also occur when a cannula is being pushed in, but would not be maintained after insertion of a cannula, perhaps leading to subsequent misplacement as the tissues recoil.

My view is that needle decompression might buy you time as a holding measure, but the patient with a tension pneumothorax will need a thoracostomy sooner rather than later.



Objective: Computed tomography measurements of chest wall thickness (CWT) suggest that standard- length angiocatheters (4.5 cm) may fail to decompress tension pneumothoraces. We used an alternative modality, ultrasound, to measure CWT. We correlated CWT with body mass index (BMI) and used national data to estimate the percentage of patients with CWT greater than 4.5 cm.


Methods: This was an observational, cross-sectional study of a convenience sample. We recorded standing height, weight, and sex. We measured CWT with ultrasound at the second intercostal space, midclavicular line and at the fourth intercostal space, midaxillary line on supine subjects. We correlated BMI (weight [in kilograms]/height2 [in square meters]) with CWT using linear regression. 95% Confidence intervals (CIs) assessed statistical significance. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey results for 2007-2008 were combined to estimate national BMI adult measurements.


Results: Of 51 subjects, 33 (65%) were male and 18 (35%) were female. Mean anterior CWT (male, 2.1 cm; CI, 1.9-2.3; female, 2.3 cm; CI, 1.7-2.7), lateral CWT (male, 2.4 cm; CI, 2.1-2.6; female, 2.5 cm; CI 2.0-2.9), and BMI (male, 27.7; CI, 26.1-29.3; female, 30.0; CI, 25.8-34.2) did not differ by sex. Lateral CWT was greater than anterior CWT (0.2 cm; CI, 0.1-0.4; P <.01). Only one subject with a BMI of 48.2 had a CWT that exceeded 4.5 cm. Using national BMI estimates, less than 1% of the US population would be expected to have CWT greater than 4.5 cm.


Conclusions: Ultrasound measurements suggest that most patients will have CWT less than 4.5 cm and that CWT may not be the source of the high failure rate of needle decompression in tension pneumothorax.


Ultrasound determination of chest wall thickness: implications for needle thoracostomy

Am J Emerg Med. 2011 Nov;29(9):1173-7

Needle versus mini-chest tube for pneumothorax

A mini-chest tube with Heimlich valve was an alternative to needle aspiration in patients with spontaneous pneumothorax, with some apparently favourable outcomes in this small study. The authors do not specify what type of chest tube they used but report it was 12 Fr diameter. They highlight an interesting difference in guidelines for the treatment of spontaneous primary pneumothorax:

Traditional preference has been for chest tube insertion and admission to the ward. British Thoracic Society recommends needle aspiration (NA) as the initial treatment of choice, but American College of Chest Physicians Consensus prefers insertion of small-bore catheters (≤14F) or chest tubes (16-22F).



OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to compare outcomes and complications associated with needle aspiration (NA) and minichest tube (MCT) insertion with Heimlich valve attachment in the treatment of primary spontaneous pneumothorax at an emergency department (ED).


METHODS: Patients presenting with primary spontaneous pneumothorax were randomized to NA or MCT. They had repeat chest x-rays immediately after the procedure and 6 hours later. Patients who underwent NA were discharged if repeat x-rays showed less than 10% pneumothorax. Those who had MCT were discharged if repeat x-rays did not show worsening of pneumothorax. They were reviewed at the outpatient clinic within 3 days. The primary outcomes of interest were failure rate and admission rate. The secondary outcomes were complication rate, pain and satisfaction scores, length of hospital stay, and rate of full recovery during outpatient follow-up.


RESULTS: There were 48 patients whose mean age was 25 years. We found no difference in failure rate between the groups, except that there were more MCT (24%) than NA patients (4%) with complete expansion at first review (difference, -0.20; 95% confidence interval, -0.38 to -0.01). Thirty-five percent of NA group and 20% of MCT group needed another procedure at the ED. Fifty-two percent of NA patients and 28% of MCT patients were admitted from the ED to the inpatient ward. Nine percent and 12%, respectively, of patients who had NA and MCT were admitted from the review clinic. Both groups of patients had equivalent pain scores, satisfaction scores, and complication rates.


CONCLUSION: Both MCT and NA allowed safe management of primary spontaneous pneumothorax in the outpatient setting.


A randomized controlled trial comparing minichest tube and needle aspiration in outpatient management of primary spontaneous pneumothorax
Am J Emerg Med. 2011 Nov;29(9):1152-7

E-FAST for pneumothorax

Some further evidence of the superiority of ultrasound over chest x-ray for the detection of pneumothorax (although it’s not perfect):

INTRODUCTION: Early identification of pneumothorax is crucial to reduce the mortality in critically injured patients. The objective of our study is to investigate the utility of surgeon performed extended focused assessment with sonography for trauma (EFAST) in the diagnosis of pneumothorax.

METHODS: We prospectively analysed 204 trauma patients in our level I trauma center over a period of 12 (06/2007-05/2008) months in whom EFAST was performed. The patients’ demographics, type of injury, clinical examination findings (decreased air entry), CXR, EFAST and CT scan findings were entered into the data base. Sensitivity, specificity, positive (PPV) and negative predictive values (NPV) were calculated.

RESULTS: Of 204 patients (mean age–43.01+/-19.5 years, sex–male 152, female 52) 21 (10.3%) patients had pneumothorax. Of 21 patients who had pneumothorax 12 were due to blunt trauma and 9 were due to penetrating trauma. The diagnosis of pneumothorax in 204 patients demonstrated the following: clinical examination was positive in 17 patients (true positive in 13/21, 62%; 4 were false positive and 8 were false negative), CXR was positive in 16 (true positive in 15/19, 79%; 1 false positive, 4 missed and 2 CXR not performed before chest tube) patients and EFAST was positive in 21 patients (20 were true positive [95.2%], 1 false positive and 1 false negative). In diagnosing pneumothorax EFAST has significantly higher sensitivity compared to the CXR (P=0.02).

CONCLUSIONS: Surgeon performed trauma room extended FAST is simple and has higher sensitivity compared to the chest X-ray and clinical examination in detecting pneumothorax.

Extended focused assessment with sonography for trauma (EFAST) in the diagnosis of pneumothorax: experience at a community based level I trauma center
Injury. 2011 May;42(5):511-4

Inadequate pre-hospital needle thoracostomy

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the frequency of inadequate needle chest thoracostomy in the prehospital setting in trauma patients suspected of having a pneumothorax (PTX) on the basis of physical examination.

This study took place at a level I trauma center. All trauma patients arriving via emergency medical services with a suspected PTX and a needle thoracostomy were evaluated for a PTX with bedside ultrasound. Patients too unstable for ultrasound evaluation before tube thoracostomy were excluded, and convenience sampling was used. All patients were scanned while supine. Examinations began at the midclavicular line and included the second through fifth ribs. If no sliding lung sign (SLS) was noted, a PTX was suspected, and the lung point was sought for definitive confirmation. When an SLS was noted throughout and a PTX was ruled out on ultrasound imaging, the thoracostomy catheter was removed. Descriptive statistics were calculated.

Image used with kind permission of Bret Nelson, MD, RDMS (click image for more great ultrasound images)

A total of 57 patients were evaluated over a 3-year period. All had at least 1 needle thoracostomy attempted; 1 patient underwent 3 attempts. Fifteen patients (26%) had a normal SLS on ultrasound examination and no PTX after the thoracostomy catheter was removed. None of the 15 patients were later discovered to have a PTX on subsequent computed tomography.

In this study, 26% of patients who received needle thoracostomy in the prehospital setting for a suspected PTX appeared not to have had a PTX originally, nor had 1 induced by the needle thoracostomy. It may be prudent to evaluate such patients with bedside ultrasound instead of automatically converting all needle thoracostomies to tube thoracostomies.

Inadequate needle thoracostomy rate in the prehospital setting for presumed pneumothorax: an ultrasound study
J Ultrasound Med. 2010 Sep;29(9):1285-9