Chest tube insertion (1296)

Key points below

What is a chest tube?

A chest tube is a soft, flexible tube that is put into the space between the lung and the chest wall. This is called the pleural space. The tube helps drain fluid or air from this area. 


Why does my child need a chest tube? 

In some situations, such as an infection or an injury, fluid builds up in the pleural space and makes it hard to breathe. Placing a chest tube in the area drains the fluid.  This will make it easier for your child to breathe. Your child will be more comfortable. Taking fluid from the area will speed up the healing process. 

How is it placed?

1. Your child will be given medicines to control pain.  It will also make your child sleepy for the procedure. This will help your child stay relaxed and comfortable. 
2. With the help of ultrasound or X-ray, the doctor locates and puts a needle in the area that has the most fluid. 
3. A wire is passed through the needle into the chest.  Then the chest tube is placed over the wire.  The wire is removed and the tube stays in place.
4. The chest tube is secured to the skin.  A bandage is put over the exit site.
5. The chest tube is connected to suction to help the fluid drain.
Most often, it takes 30 to 60 minutes to put the chest tube in. 

What are some risks of the procedure?

What care is needed after the procedure?

The chest tube may stay attached to suction while it is in place.
The tube may be flushed on a regular schedule to keep it working as it should.
Your provider team will keep track of the drainage from the tube on a regular schedule.

Care after the procedure continued


Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.