Air leaks are an unavoidable complication of pulmonary resection. The definition of a persistent air leak is arbitrary and may even be irrelevant in solving the problem. Persistent air leaks are more common in patients with severe COPD, and preoperative interventions are ineffective in reducing their prevalence. Meticulous surgical technique and care in handling and resection of the pulmonary parenchyma are essential in preventing persistent air leaks. Buttressing parenchymal staple lines and creating a pleural tent or pneumoperitoneum should be reserved for patients at risk for persistent air leaks. The use of currently available sealants is ineffective for the treatment of this complication. To stop persistent air leaks, early cessation of suction and placing chest tubes to an underwater seal is more effective than continuous suction. The management of persistent air leaks may require provocative chest tube clamping and permissive chest tube removal or patient discharge from the hospital with a chest tube and a Heimlich valve.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine