Background: The need for chest X-rays (CXR) following large-bore chest tube removal has been questioned; however, the utility of CXRs following removal of small-bore pigtail chest tubes is unknown. We hypothesized that CXRs obtained following removal of pigtail chest tubes would not change management. Methods: Patients < 18 years old with pigtail chest tubes placed 2014–2019 at a tertiary children’s hospital were reviewed. Exclusion criteria were age < 1 month, death or transfer with a chest tube in place, or pigtail chest tube replacement by large-bore chest tube. The primary outcome was chest tube reinsertion. Results: 111 patients underwent 123 pigtail chest tube insertions; 12 patients had bilateral chest tubes. The median age was 5.8 years old. Indications were pneumothorax (n = 53), pleural effusion (n = 54), chylothorax (n = 6), empyema (n = 5), and hemothorax (n = 3). Post-pull CXRs were obtained in 121/123 cases (98.4%). The two children without post-pull CXRs did not require chest tube reinsertion. Two patients required chest tube reinsertion (1.6%), both for re-accumulation of their chylothorax. Conclusions: Post-pull chest X-rays are done nearly universally following pigtail chest tube removal but rarely change management. Providers should obtain post-pull imaging based on symptoms and underlying diagnosis, with higher suspicion for recurrence in children with chylothorax.
- Chest tube
- Pediatric surgery
- Pigtail thoracostomy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health