If fluid, such as blood, or air, gets into the pleural space, the lung can collapse, preventing adequate air exchange. Chest tubes are used to treat conditions that can cause the lung to collapse, such as:
- air leaks from the lung into the chest (pneumothorax)
- bleeding into the chest (hemothorax)
- after surgery or trauma in the chest (pneumothorax or hemothorax)
- lung abscesses or pus in the chest (empyema).
Review Date 6/22/2016
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.