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Tube Thoracostomy during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tube Thoracostomy during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This document provides guidance for trauma and acute care surgeons surrounding the placement, management and removal of chest tubes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tube thoracostomy for a traumatic hemothorax or pneumothorax is a potentially aerosol-generating procedure that is performed frequently by acute care surgeons.

There are no data specific to the aerosolization of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 specifically through placement of a tube thoracostomy, and the potential risk likely varies based on the indication for placement.

This document provides guidance regarding special precautions to consider during the COVID-19 pandemic to minimize exposure risk to staff during tube insertion, drainage system management and tube removal.

The information provided here is not intended to supersede clinical judgment.

Given the limited data, the lack of any of the special equipment below should not prevent or delay the placement of a tube thoracostomy in a life-threatening situation.

As the current pandemic evolves, some or all of the data and recommendations may not be applicable to future conditions.

June 7, 2020

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