A chest drain is used to treat a pneumothorax, in which air enters between the layers of the pleura (the membrane that separates the lungs from the chest wall). It may also be needed following chest surgery. A tube is inserted between the layers of the pleura, allowing air to escape. The tube may be connected to a pump that extracts the air. A chest drain must remain in place until the lung heals, which often takes several days.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.