The use of flexible spiral drains after non-cardiac thoracic surgery. A clinical study

A. Terzi, B. Feil, C. Bonadiman, A. Lonardoni, I. Spilimbergo, S. Pergher, P. Scanagatta, F. Calabrò

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Objective: After an observational study on 50 patients determined the efficacy and safety of a small calibre (19 F), flexible, fluted spiral drains with round cross-section after non-cardiac thoracic surgery we undertook a prospective study to compare these drains to standard chest drains also in terms of pain using a Visual Analog Score. Methods: One hundred consecutive patients who had to undergo non-cardiac chest surgery either by thoracotomy or by VATS were randomly assigned to receive small calibre drains with round cross-section (group A) or the standard chest drains (group B) to drain the pleural space. Drains were connected to a unitized chest drainage system. Pain was assessed using a Visual Analog Scale (VAS) 0-100. Results: The amount of fluid evacuated daily in patients who received the spiral drains was as much as 1150 ml, that of patients who received standard drains was as much as 950 ml. In no case did spiral drains have to be replaced with standard tubes. In group A first drain was removed after a mean of 3.4 days and the second after a mean of 5.9 days; in group B after a mean of 4.1 and 6.1 days, respectively. Patients were discharged after a mean of 8.5 days in group A (SD 4.04) and 8.1 days in group B (SD 4.76). There were no drains-related complications in both groups. The drains-related pain for the patient was significantly less for patients with spiral drains compared to standard drains at rest, during cough induced by respiratory therapists and at the time of removal. Conclusions: Spiral drains proved to be at least as safe and effective as conventional tubes after lung surgery; they allowed for evacuation of large amounts of blood/fluid as well as air, and were associated with minimal discomfort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-137
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


  • Pleural space
  • Postoperative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery


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