Category: Critical Care
Keywords: empyema (PubMed Search)
The incidence of empyema as a complication of pneumonia has been increasing since the 1990's and source control requires removing the pus from the chest as soon as possible, but how large should the drain be? The American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) released the most recent guidelines for identifying and managing empyema in June 2017 and at the time had no certain evidence to guide the choice of large-bore vs small-bore catheters. Most studies to guide us are flawed (not randomized), but no recently published randomized studies exist to provide a definitive answer.
Bottom line: a small-bore pigtail catheter is a reasonable choice to drain empyema and flushing it every 6 hours has been shown to prevent clogging.