Is a Chest Radiograph Required After Removal of Chest Tubes in Children?

Ellen McGrath, PNP; Lee Ranstrom, PNP; Debra Lajoie, PhD, RN; Lauren McGlynn, PNP; David Mooney, MD, MPH


J Pediatr Health Care. 2017;31(5):588-593. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Our objective was to determine the clinical value of obtaining a chest radiograph after removal of a chest tube. We conducted a retrospective chart review of pediatric general surgical patients with a chest tube in place after a thoracic procedure over a 3-year time period. Postremoval films were considered to be of value if they led to a change in clinical management. Of 468 patients who had a thoracic procedure, 281 patients had a chest tube and a postremoval film. In 263 patients (93.6%) there was no change in the postremoval film result compared with baseline. Only two patients (0.7%) required an intervention based on symptoms, not based on the postremoval film. Eliminating routine postremoval radiographs after chest tube removal in pediatric patients will lessen radiation exposure and provide cost savings with no adverse impact on outcome.