Center for Advanced Practice


Impact of routine chest radiographs after removal of pigtail chest tubes placed by pediatric interventional radiology.

Publication Title

Pediatric radiology

Document Type


PubMed ID



BACKGROUND: Chest radiographs are commonly obtained after chest tube removal to assess for complications. The benefit of this practice in children is uncertain.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the clinical impact of a routine chest radiograph following removal of chest tubes placed by pediatric interventional radiology.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This single-center retrospective study evaluated 200 chest tube removals in 176 patients (median age: 4 years, interquartile range [IQR]: 1.2-12; median weight: 17.2 kg, IQR: 10.67-37.6), who had a chest tube placed and removed by pediatric interventional radiology over a 16-year period. A chest radiograph obtained on the day of removal was compared to the preceding study. For patients with imaging changes, medical records were reviewed to determine whether clinical actions occurred as a result. All records were reviewed for 7 days after tube removal or hospital discharge, whichever occurred first.

RESULTS: The most common indication for chest tube insertion was simple effusion (53%, 106/200) and the most common tube size was 10.2 French (38.7%, 81/209). The median tube dwell time was 8 days (IQR: 5-17). There was a median of 14 h (IQR: 7-33.5) between imaging before and after tube removal. Imaging changes occurred in 10% (n = 20/200) of chest tube removals. Three of 200 (1.5%) of these were symptomatic after removal and only 0.5% (1/200) required chest tube reinsertion. For the remaining removals resulting in chest radiograph changes, patients were asymptomatic and required no change in clinical management.

CONCLUSION: For chest tubes placed by pediatric interventional radiology, these findings do not support the practice of a routine chest radiograph after removal in asymptomatic children.


Chest Tubes, Child, Preschool, Device Removal, Humans, Radiography, Radiology, Interventional, Retrospective Studies



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