A thoracic catheter
is a medical device used to drain fluid or air from the pleural space of the chest. The pleural space is the space between the lung and the chest wall and normally contains a small amount of fluid to allow the lung to move smoothly during breathing. However, in some cases, such as in the presence of an infection or injury, excess fluid or air may accumulate in the pleural space, causing difficulty breathing and other symptoms.
A thoracic catheter consists of a long, thin tube that is inserted through the chest wall into the pleural space. The catheter is typically inserted under local anesthesia, and may be guided into position using imaging techniques such as X-ray or ultrasound.
Once the catheter is in place, it can be connected to a drainage bag or other collection device that allows the fluid or air to be safely removed from the pleural space. The catheter may be left in place for several days or weeks, depending on the specific condition being treated.
Thoracic catheters are commonly used in the treatment of conditions such as pleural effusion (accumulation of fluid in the pleural space), pneumothorax (collapsed lung), and empyema (infected pleural space). While the procedure to insert a thoracic catheter carries some risks, including infection and bleeding, it is generally considered a safe and effective treatment option for these conditions.