Treatment of air leak in polytrauma patients with blunt chest injury.

Halat, Gabriel; Negrin, Lukas L; Chrysou, Konstantina; Hoksch, Beatrix; Schmid, Ralph; Kocher, Gregor (2017). Treatment of air leak in polytrauma patients with blunt chest injury. Injury - international journal of the care of the injured, 48(9), pp. 1895-1899. Elsevier 10.1016/j.injury.2017.04.061

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Precise diagnostics and an adequate therapeutic approach are mandatory in the treatment of air leak in polytrauma patients with blunt chest trauma. The aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence, characteristics, and management of air leak following this injury pattern.


Data from 110 polytrauma patients was collected retrospectively. Fifty-four patients received initial treatment by chest tube placement for pneumothorax. These patients were classified into two groups, one with severe air leak and one with minor air leak. An evaluation of injury pattern, chest wall injuries in particular, duration of air leak, reason for drainage maintenance in place, hospital length of stay, ICU stay, ventilator duration, type of treatment, and the delay to surgical intervention was performed.


Whereas 4 patients showed severe air leak and were subsequently scheduled for timely surgical intervention, the remaining 50 patients only showed minor air leak. Only 7 patients with minor air leak suffered from prolonged air leak (>5days), which spontaneously resolved in all of them after a mean duration of 7.7days (range 6-12days). Absence of a prolonged air leak resulted in a shorter length of stay and a shorter duration of mechanical ventilation, although no statistical significance was observed.


Early spontaneous cessation of most minor air leaks as well as early surgical intervention for severe air leak lead to very satisfactory patient outcomes with a relatively short hospital stay in our patients. We therefore advocate early surgery for lacerations of the pulmonary parenchyma resulting in severe air leak, whereas minor air leaks can usually be treated conservatively.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Clinic of Radiation Oncology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gastro-intestinal, Liver and Lung Disorders (DMLL) > Clinic of Thoracic Surgery
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR) > Forschungsbereich Mu50 > Forschungsgruppe Thoraxchirurgie
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of General Internal Medicine (DAIM) > Clinic of General Internal Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Hoksch, Beatrix, Schmid, Ralph, Kocher, Gregor


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Thomas Michael Marti

Date Deposited:

16 May 2018 12:08

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:09

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Air leak treatment Blunt chest injury in polytrauma Posttraumatic pneumothorax Prolonged air leak after chest injury




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