Tube thoracostomy management in the combat wounded

Joseph D. Bozzay*, Patrick F. Walker, Alley E. Ronaldi, Eric A. Elster, Carlos J. Rodriguez, Matthew J. Bradley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The intent of this study was to characterize the management and subsequent complications of combat injury tube thoracostomies and to determine risk factors for the development of pneumonia (PNA) and retained hemothorax (RH). One hundred fifteen patients with 173 tube thoracostomies met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed. The mean injury severity score was 30.8 + 11.6, 23.5 per cent had traumatic amputations, 49.7 per cent had a hemothorax, and 50.3 per cent had a pneumothorax as indications for tube thoracostomy (TT) placement. Within 24 hours of injury, 89.6 per cent were intubated, the majority (54%) were injured by improvised explosive devices, 35.6 per cent sustained rib fractures, and 12.2 per cent had a diaphragm injury. A mean of 1.5 + 0.7 (range 1-4) tube thoracostomies were placed, 18.3 per cent of patients had bilateral tube thoracostomies, and the average TT duration was 6.7 + 3.9 days. The incidence of PNA was 27 per cent (n = 31), RH was 9.6 per cent (n = 11), and empyema was 1.7 per cent (n = 2). Multivariable analysis identified the duration of ventilation [OR 1.2, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.097-1.313, P < 0.001] as independently associated with the development of PNA. Bilateral TT placement (OR 3.848, 95% CI: 1.219-12.143, P = 0.0216) and injury severity score (OR 1.050, 95% CI: 1.001-1.102, P = 0.0443) were independently associated with PNA development when a patient was intubated for eight days or less. The number of tube thoracostomies placed (OR 3.08, 95% CI: 1.03-9.18, P = 0.0439) was independently associated with the development of RH. Further research is warranted to identify modifiable risk factors to reduce the incidence of PNA and RH in patients with TT placed for traumatic injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1355-1362
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


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