Needle Chest Decompression

A tension pneumothorax is an immediately life threatening injury. In the hospital setting, placing a chest tube is the definitive treatment. It requires a scalpel and is a surgical procedure. In the field that is not possible, so EMS providers have been taught to use a needle instead. This approach has some limitations. You need a longer than typical IV needle to reach the plural space on a large patient. The catheter sheaths on an IV needle are soft because they were designed to ride in a soft vein. They are prone to kinking and collapsing within the chest wall musculature. More


About Dan White

I'm a retired Paramedic and EMS Instructor with 35 years EMS and emergency medical product experience. I love canoes, cars and EMS. I have written a lot about EMS Technology on the Paramedic Blog, the Insights on Innovation column for, on and I can be reached directly at 573-240-0002.
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