Pleural electrical impedance is a sensitive, real-time indicator of pneumothorax

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3 Scopus citations


Background: Chest tube management protocols, particularly in patients with alveolar-pleural air leak due to recent surgery or trauma, are limited by concerns over safety, especially concerns about rapid and occult development of pneumothorax. A continuous, real-time monitor of pneumothorax could improve the quality and safety of chest tube management. We developed a rat model of pneumothorax to test a novel approach of measuring electrical impedance within the pleural space as a monitor of lung expansion. Materials and methods: Anesthetized Sprague–Dawley rats underwent right thoracotomy. A novel impedance sensor and a thoracostomy tube were introduced into the right pleural space. Pneumothorax of varying volumes ranging from 0.2 to 20 mL was created by syringe injection of air via the thoracostomy tube. Electrical resistance measurements from the pleural sensor and fluoroscopic images were obtained at baseline and after the creation of pneumothorax and results compared. Results: A statistically significant, dose-dependent increase in electrical resistance was observed with increasing volume of pneumothorax. Resistance measurement allowed for continuous, real-time monitoring of pneumothorax development and the ability to track pneumothorax resolution by aspiration of air via the thoracostomy tube. Pleural resistance measurement demonstrated 100% sensitivity and specificity for all volumes of pneumothorax tested and was significantly more sensitive for pneumothorax detection than fluoroscopy. Conclusions: The electrical impedance-based pleural space sensor described in this study provided sensitive and specific pneumothorax detection, which was superior to radiographic analysis. Real-time, continuous monitoring for pneumothorax has the potential to improve the safety, quality, and efficiency of postoperative chest tube management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-23
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Chest tubes
  • Electrical impedance
  • Lung injury
  • Lung volume measurements
  • Pneumothorax
  • Pulmonary surgical procedures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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