Percutaneous Dilational Thoracostomy Catheter and Heimlich Valve Placement

  • Jennifer Cone
  • Kazuhide MatsushimaEmail author


  • Percutaneous thoracostomy catheters can be used for both short- and long-term drainage.

  • A pigtail catheter is a good choice for prolonged pleural drainage, while straight catheters are best for short-term drainage.

  • Heimlich valves are one-way valves that allow drainage of fluid or air from the pleural cavity upon expiration without allowing air to reenter on inspiration.

  • The Heimlich valve can replace pleurovac drainage systems in select patients and can allow for more mobility.

  • The Heimlich valve works best for air and simple fluid. Blood or thick purulent fluid can cause malfunction of the valve system.

  • For a pneumothorax, the catheter can be placed either in the midclavicular line in the second or third intercostal space or in the midaxillary line in the fourth or fifth intercostal space.

  • For a pleural effusion, the catheter should be placed in the midaxillary line in the fourth or fifth intercostal space.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Acute Care SurgeryUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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