COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update Learn More

Chest Tube Insertion

What Is A Chest Tube?

A chest tube is a plastic tube that drains air or extra liquid from the space between your lungs and chest wall. This area is called the pleural space. It is normal for a thin layer of fluid to be present in this space. If the space fills with too much fluid, or with air, the lung can collapse. When a chest tube is in place, the air or extra fluid drains out of the pleural space through the tube. When the air or excess fluid is gone, your lung can expand. You will be able to breathe better. Some of the problems that can cause air or too much fluid in the pleural space are:

  • Trauma or injury
  • Air leaking into the chest cavity from inside the lung. This is called pneumothorax.
  • Fluid leaking into the chest cavity. This is called a pleural effusion. Problems that can cause this condition include infection, heart failure or cancer.

During The Procedure

CT guidance will be used when selecting the best site for chest tube placement. A local anesthetic (numbing medicine) will be injected into the area using a small needle. The chest tube will then be placed.

After The Procedure

Chest X-rays will help the doctor know when all the air or extra fluid is out of your pleural space and your lung is expanded. Your chest tube will be connected to suction to help drain your pleural space.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your provider.

Back to Imaging Patient Instructions