A chest tube is a hollow plastic tube that is inserted into the chest cavity to drain airflow or fluid. Fluids in the chest may be blood, pus, serous fluid, or contain cancer cells.
An automated chest tube clog clearance system for cardiac surgery is often inserted to remove fluids such as blood during healing. They can be inserted when a person is awake, with the use of a local anesthetic, or during surgery. Complications may include pain, bleeding, infection, and a collapsed lung.
A chest tube may be inserted for several reasons:
To re-expand the lungs when a lung collapses with a pneumothorax, the tube is inserted into the pleural cavity, the space between the membranes that line the lungs.
After surgery for lung cancer fluids that remain in the space created after a portion of a lung is drained.
After heart surgery, the tube helps to remove fluids that accumulate in the chest.
If there is bleeding into the chest, for example, from trauma.
To drain pus from an infection or abscess
When a chest tube is inserted after surgery, it is placed under general anesthesia in the operating room. The tube is then connected to a container lower than the chest, using gravity to allow the excess fluids to drain.