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The Clinician's Perspective on Pneumothorax Management

Michael H. Baumann; Charlie Strange
Author and Funding Information

Affiliations: From the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson,  From the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston

Affiliations: From the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson,  From the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston


1997 by the American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 1997;112(3):822-828. doi:10.1378/chest.112.3.822
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Abstract

Objective: We sought to determine the current practice habits among clinicians treating spontaneous pneumothorax and bronchopleural fistula.

Methods: Practice habits were determined by a randomized postal survey of 3,000 American College of Chest Physicians members. Group comparisons are performed by χ2 analysis with p<0.05 being significant.

Results: Four hundred nine respondents (13.6%) included 176 practicing pulmonologists (43.0%), 67 academic pulmonologists (16.4%), 102 thoracic surgeons (25.0%), and 64 others (15.6%). More than 50% of respondents treat a first small primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP) by simple observation, a first small secondary spontaneous pneumothorax (SSP) by chest tube, persistent air leak in both PSP and SSP with chest tube+video-assisted thoracoscopy, and use a 20 to 24F chest tube in mechanically ventilated ARDS-related tension pneumothorax. First recurrences of PSP and SSP were treated by a variety of interventions that included simple observation (PSP=14%, SSP=4%), chest tube (22%/17%), chest tube+sclerosis (20%/16%), chest tube+video-assisted thoracoscopy (36%/48%), and chest tube+thoracotomy (5%/12%). The most popular sclerosing agents are doxycycline (48%), talc slurry (24%), and talc poudrage (19%). More than 75% of physicians intervened in a persistent air leak between 5 and 10 days. Chest tubes are initially placed to suction by 48% of respondents in PSP and removed >24 h after air leak ceases in 79%. Chest tube clamping prior to removal is employed by 67% of respondents. Significant differences exist between thoracic surgeons and pulmonologists with surgeons placing more chest tubes for first-time PSP and performing chest tube+video-assisted thoracoscopy for first recurrences of PSP more often than pulmonologists. Thoracic surgeons seldom use sclerosis in spontaneous pneumothorax compared to pulmonologists.

Conclusions: Marked practice variation exists in clinicians' approaches to the management of spontaneous pneumothorax and bronchopleural fistulas that is partially explained by differences between pulmonologists and thoracic surgeons. A national consensus statement is needed to guide randomized studies in pneumothorax management.


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