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Portable digital chest drainage systems could minimise COVID spread

A team of thoracic consultants from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust has uncovered important findings on the use of chest drains during the COVID pandemic.

The pioneering research, which reveals digital chest drains generate and distribute less aerosol generated particles compared to traditional water seal systems, has been published in the Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery journal. The research was led by a team of thoracic consultants from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust – home to one of the largest lung cancer practices in the UK.

At the start of the pandemic there was limited evidence about the spread of COVID-19 via chest drains which led to uncertainty within the thoracic community about the best medical device to use. To understand this area further, the researchers reviewed three different types of chest drainage systems – single-chamber, three-compartment wet-dry suction and digital drainage system.

The aim was to establish the best way to prevent transmission of COVID-19 to patients, as well as protecting healthcare workers. While the transmission of COVID-19 is primarily through droplet spread, new research shows that SARS-CoV-2 can survive in smaller aerosols that remain suspended in the air for several hours. These infective airborne particles may travel greater distances and be inhaled, increasing the risk of transmission.1

The results of this study showed that the three-compartment wet-dry suction system and the digital drainage system did not generate any identifiable aerosolised particles at any of the air leak or drain output volumes considered.

Speaking about the results, Dr Andrea Billè, consultant thoracic surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and the study author, said: "At the start of the pandemic there was limited evidence about the spread of COVID-19 via chest drains. It’s the first pandemic we’ve encountered in a long time, therefore we had nothing to compare it to.

"Due to the lack of any specific guidance at the time, we went back to an old-fashioned system (an underwater seal chest drain connected to wall suction) and conducted our own research. What we found was that the digital device reduced aerosol generated particles, which is a good indicator of whether something may contribute to COVID-19 spread. There were also fewer complications compared with the old system."

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Upcoming Events

The Third Annual Healthcare Innovation and Technology Conference and Exhibition 2024

Royal Society of Medicine, London
27th February 2024

Advancing Ultrasound Probe Decontamination Study Day

Horizon Leeds, 2 Kendall Street #3rd Floor Leeds LS10 1JR
12th March 2024

Webinar: How to be Compliant and Sustainable In Healthcare

ONLINE
19th March 2024 & 21st March 2024 10 am CET time o

POCT Innovators: The Power to Disrupt Series

Cloth Hall Court, Leeds. UK
20 March, 2024

Central Sterilising Club - Annual Scientific Meeting 2024

Crowne Plaza at Gerrard’s Cross
15th April 2024 – 16th April 2024

DECON UK 2024

National Conference Centre, Birmingham
17th April 2024

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

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