A chest tube (chest drain, thoracic catheter, tube thoracostomy, or intercostal drain) is a flexible plastic tube that is inserted through the chest wall and into the pleural space or mediastinum. It is used to remove air (pneumothorax) or fluid (pleural effusion, blood, chyle), or pus (empyema) from the intrathoracic space. It is also known as a Blau drain or an intercostal catheter.
The concept of chest drainage was first advocated by Hippocrates when he described the treatment of empyema by means of incision, cautery, and insertion of metal tubes.When your chest tube is inserted, you will lie on your side or sit partly upright, with one arm over your head.
The chest tube usually stays in place until x-rays show that all the blood, fluid, or air has drained from your chest and your lung has fully re-expanded. The tube is easy to remove when it is no longer needed. Most people do not need medicine to relax or to numb the area when it is removed.