Chest X-ray - Tubes
Chest Drains - Position

Key points

  • For treatment of a pneumothorax the tube tip is aimed towards the upper pleural cavity and for treatment of a pleural effusion towards the lower part of the pleural cavity

A pleural effusion or a pneumothorax can be treated by positioning a tube into the pleural cavity. Chest drains are usually inserted through the chest wall in the mid-axillary line.

The superior/inferior and medial/lateral positioning of the tube can be determined on a chest X-ray.

Chest drain - treatment for pneumothorax

To drain a pneumothorax the tube is aimed superiorly towards the apex of the pleural cavity.

Chest drain - treatment for pneumothorax

Hover on/off image to show/hide findings

Tap on/off image to show/hide findings

Click image to align with top of page

Chest drain - treatment for pneumothorax

  • A large chest drain is positioned with its tip pointing superiorly within the pleural cavity

Chest drain - close up

Hover on/off image to show/hide findings

Tap on/off image to show/hide findings

Click image to align with top of page

Chest drain - close up

  • Chest drains are variable in design
  • This tube has a radio-opaque tip and a marker strip along the edge
  • Gaps in the marker indicate the position of holes in the side of the tube

Chest drain - treatment for pleural effusion

To drain a pleural effusion the tube tip is ideally located towards the lower part of the pleural cavity.

Chest drain - treatment for pleural effusion

Hover on/off image to show/hide findings

Tap on/off image to show/hide findings

Click image to align with top of page

Chest drain - treatment for pleural effusion

  • The tube is appropriately placed towards the lower part of the pleural cavity