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Intercostal chest drain fixation strength: comparison of techniques and sutures
  1. Yaniv Ringel1,
  2. O Haberfeld2,
  3. R Kremer3,
  4. E Kroll4,
  5. R Steinberg1 and
  6. A Lehavi1
  1. 1 Anesthesiology, Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa, Israel
  2. 2 Thoracic Surgery, Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa, Israel
  3. 3 Thoracic Surgery, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel
  4. 4 Aerospace Engineering, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Haifa, Israel
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yaniv Ringel, Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa 31999, Israel; yanivringel{at}


Objective The accidental removal of an intercostal chest drain (ICD) is common and may result in serious complications. A number of fixation techniques and suture material are in use, and the selection is often based on personal preferences and equipment availability. This study is designed to determine which of the common techniques provides the strongest ICD fixation.

Methods This study compared the mechanical strength of eight different ICD fixation techniques (purse string, ‘Roman sandal’, ‘Jo’burg’ (JO) technique, a suture through the tube, one and two passes through a locking plastic tie, tape fixation and a commercial disposable drainage tube holder) and two silk suture sizes using porcine cadavers and a digital push–pull dynamometer to simulate accidental removal of an ICD. A total of 14 different experimental set-ups produced 280 measurements.

Results Significant differences in ICD fixation strength were observed. A modified JO technique using a size 1 silk suture was nearly three times stronger than a purse-string fixation using a size 0 silk and 10 times stronger from a commercial, adhesive-based device (180, 70 and 22, respectively).

Conclusion In situations where the mechanical strength of ICD fixation is important, using a size 1 silk and a modified JO technique may provide the strongest fixation.

  • intensive & critical care
  • orthopaedic & trauma surgery
  • cardiothoracic surgery
  • thoracic medicine

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request, free and available on the investigation computer of our department,

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request, free and available on the investigation computer of our department,

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  • Contributors OH, RK and RS: intercostal chest drain fixation; EK: supervision and analysis of results; AL: statistical analysis.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.