The Cardiac Surgery RBC Dilemma
Heart Surgeons are often faced with a dilemma: They put in chest tubes to drain shed blood from around the heart and lungs after heart surgery. This is because all patients bleed for a few hours after heart surgery until they are stabilized in the ICU. But now it’s commonly known that up to 36% of these chest tubes clot off in the early hours after surgery (Read more here). When this happens, patients can retain blood around their heart and lungs, leading to retained blood complications, or RBC (More about RBC).
This poses a dilemma in the ICU: Do you take apart the system and advance catheters and balloons up the chest tube to try to re-open it in a “reactive” maneuver that requires one to break the sterile field and runs the risk of advancing the balloon catheter beyond the tip of the chest tube potentially injuring internal organs (“A New Use of Fogarty Catheter: Chest Tube Clearance”)? Or better yet, why not use a regulatory cleared device to proactively prevent chest tube clogging and thus RBC with simple bedside Active Clearance Technology? The proof is growing: It’s better to be proactive than reactive.