Cochrane Summaries

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Mediastinal chest drain clearance following cardiac surgery

Wallen MA, Morrison AL, Gillies D, O'Riordan E, Bridge C, Stoddart F
Published Online: 
7 July 2010

Chest tubes are required following cardiac surgery to drain blood from around the heart. Blood around the heart can interfere with the function of the heart (cardiac tamponade) and result in more surgery and in extreme cases, death. To prevent chest tubes from blocking and so causing tamponade nurses manipulate them to prevent or remove clots. Manipulation may cause pain and discomfort for cardiac patients and rarely other adverse effects. This review found there was not enough evidence to say if one method of manipulation is better than another, or that manipulation is needed.