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Pigtail Catheters Used in the Treatment of Pneumothoraces in the Neonate

Cates, Leigh Ann, MSN, RN, NNP-BC, RRT-NPS

Section Editor(s): ZUKOWSKY, KSENIA RNC, PhD, CRNP

doi: 10.1097/01.ANC.0000346089.97615.71
Beyond the Basics

Air leak in the neonatal population can be a deadly situation. Neonates have many risk factors that can contribute to air leak. These include, but are not limited to, respiratory distress syndrome; mechanical ventilation; sepsis; pneumonia; aspiration of meconium, blood, or amniotic fluid; and congenital malformations. In the NICU, the staff must be prepared to diagnose and treat pneumothoraces in a timely manner. Pathophysiology of air leaks in the neonate including the anatomy of the chest and diagnosis, indications, and common methods for the treatment of a pneumothorax in an infant is explained in this article. In addition, the latest form of treatment for neonates, known as the modified pigtail catheter, is described. A comprehensive literature review of the evidence behind the use of the pigtail catheter in neonates will be incorporated. Finally, the step-by-step placement of this catheter using the modified Seldinger technique will be illustrated and described in detail.

Author Affiliations: Newborn Service, Texas Children's Hospital, Houston; and School of Nursing, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston.

Address correspondence to Leigh Ann Cates, MSN, RN, NNP-BC, RRT-NPS, 1735 Wild Rye Trail, Sugar Land, TX 77479;,

© 2009 National Association of Neonatal Nurses