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Treatment: Chest Drain

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.

Insertion of a chest drain

A local anaesthetic is applied to the skin and an incision made in the chest wall. A drainage tube, often with a one-way valve to control airflow, is then inserted.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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