Objective: Conventional, separate mediastinal and pleural tubes are often inefficient at draining thoracic effusions. Description: We developed a Y-shaped chest tube with split ends that divide within the thoracic cavity, permitting separate intrathoracic placement and requiring a single exit port. In this study, thoracic drainage by the split drain vs. that of separate drains was tested. Methods: After sternotomy, pericardiotomy, and left pleurotomy, pigs were fitted with separate chest drains (n=10) or a split tube prototype (n=9) with internal openings positioned in the mediastinum and in the costodiaphragmatic recess. Separate series of experiments were conducted to test drainage of D5W or 0.58 M sucrose, an aqueous solution with viscosity approximating that of plasma. One litre of fluid was infused into the thorax, and suction was applied at -20 cm H2O for 30 min. Results: When D5W was infused, the split drain left a residual volume of 53±99 ml (mean value ± SD) vs. 148 ± 120 for the separate drain (P = 0.007), representing a drainage efficiency (i.e. drained vol/[drained + residual vol]) of 95 ± 10% vs. 86 ± 12% for the separate drains (P = 0.011). In the second series, the split drain evacuated more 0.58 M sucrose in the first minute (967 ± 129 ml) than the separate drains (680 ± 192 ml, P<0.001). By 30 min, the split drain evacuated a similar volume of sucrose vs. the conventional drain (1089 ± 72 vs. 1056 ± 78 ml; P = 0.5). Residual volume tended to be lower (25 ± 10 vs. 62 ± 72 ml; P = 0.128) and drainage efficiency tended to be higher (98 ± 1 vs. 95 ± 6%; P = 0.111) with the split drain vs. conventional separate drains. Conclusion: The split chest tube drained the thoracic cavity at least as effectively as conventional separate tubes. This new device could potentially alleviate postoperative complications.
- pleural effusion
- surgical equipment