Multiple reports have detailed an unacceptably high error rate in the siting of decompression needles and tubes and describe associated iatrogenic injuries. The objective of the current study was to measure the accuracy of the novel ThoraSite template for identifying an acceptable intercostal space (ICS) for lateral needle or tube thoracostomy.
Two trained operators used the ThoraSite to place radiopaque needles in the left and right lateral chests of 12 cadavers. An independent radiologist reviewed fluoroscopy images to determine the primary outcome: the ICS in which each needle was placed. Secondary outcomes were ICS's palpable through ThoraSite's Safe Zone; needle placement relative to the anterior axillary line (AAL) and midaxillary line (MAL); and percent correct placement (defined as the third, fourth, or fifth ICS from 1 cm anterior to the AAL to 1 cm posterior to the MAL).
The six female and six male cadavers spanned 4 ft and 11 inches (150 cm) to 6 ft and 7 inches (201 cm), 80 lb (36 kg) to 350 lb (159 kg), and 16 kg/m2 to 42 kg/m2 body mass index. All 24 needles were placed in either the third (4 [17%] of 24 needles), fourth (10 [42%] of 24 needles), or fifth ICS (10 [42%] of 24 needles). In 10 (42%) of 24 assessments, two ICSs were palpable in ThoraSite's Safe Zone. All palpable ICSs were either the third (8 [24%] of 34), fourth (15 [44%] of 34); or fifth ICS (11 [32%] of 34). Twenty-three (96%) of 24 needles were inserted from 1 cm anterior to the AAL to 1 cm posterior to the MAL. Twenty-three (96%) of 24 needle placements were correct.
ThoraSite use was associated with needle placement in the third, fourth, or fifth ICS in an area roughly spanning the AAL to MAL in anatomically diverse cadavers. By facilitating appropriate needle/tube placement, ThoraSite use may decrease iatrogenic injuries. Future study involving representative users may be useful to further evaluate ThoraSite accuracy.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Therapeutic and care management, level IV.