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Advantages of applying digital chest drainage system for postoperative management of patients following pulmonary resection: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled trials

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This meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the value of the chest digital drainage system for the postoperative management of patients who have undergone pulmonary resection.


We searched the PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and Web of Science databases for included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the application of digital drainage systems versus the analog drainage system for patients with lung disease after pulmonary resection. Dichotomous variables were evaluated using risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), and mean and standardized mean differences (MDs and SMDs, respectively) with 95% CIs were used to calculate continuous variables. Statistical analyses were performed using Stata and RevMan software.


In total, 12 RCTs involving 2000 patients were analyzed. Significant differences in duration of chest tube placement (SMD =  −0.49; 95% CI =  −0.78 to −0.20), length of hospital stay (MD =−0.79 days; 95% CI = −1.24 to −0.34), and number of chest tube clamping tests (RR = 0.74; 95% CI = 0.36–1.49) were observed between the two groups, which did not significant differ in the occurrence of prolonged air leak or cardiopulmonary complication rate.


The digital chest drainage system is mainly advantageous in the duration of chest tube placement, length of hospital stay, and number of chest tube clamping tests. Future research should evaluate the requirements and economic impact of using digital system in routine clinical practice.

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Thanks to Shuya Ni, a PhD student from Jinan University, for her help at various stages of this review. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (72074103); the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (lzujbky-2021-ct06, lzujbky-2021-kb22); and the Gansu Special Project of Soft Science (20CX9ZA109).

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L.Z. provided research topics and ideas, and completed the drafting; K.G. provided technical support and some methodological guidance; X.S., E.F., M.X., and Y.W. provided part of the data analysis. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript. All authors involved in manuscript writing and final approval of manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kehu Yang or Xiuxia Li.

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Zhou, L., Guo, K., Shang, X. et al. Advantages of applying digital chest drainage system for postoperative management of patients following pulmonary resection: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled trials. Gen Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 71, 1–11 (2023).

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