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Management of pneumothorax in neonatal retrieval: a retrospective cohort study


Background Management of pneumothorax in neonates requiring retrieval poses unique challenges, including decision to insert an intercostal catheter (ICC). We aimed to report the proportion and characteristics of neonates transported with and without ICC insertion and the incidence of deterioration in neonates transported with pneumothorax.

Methods A retrospective cohort study of neonates transported with pneumothorax between 2016 and 2020 in Victoria, Australia. Univariate analysis was performed on patient and clinical characteristics, followed by multivariate analysis to identify risks independently associated with ICC insertion.

Results 174 neonates were included. Mean (SD) gestational age (GA) was 37.5 (2.8) weeks. Eighty-two neonates (47%) had ICC inserted. On multivariate analysis, risk factors independently associated with ICC insertion were mechanical ventilation (MV) preceding retrieval team arrival (OR 12, 95% CI 3.1 to 46.6, p<0.001) and radiographical mediastinal shift (MS) (OR 6.2, 95% CI 2.4 to 16.2, p<0.001). Increasing GA is negatively associated with ICC insertion (OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.5 to 0.8, p<0.001). No significant difference in incidence of deterioration between the ICC group and the no-ICC group was observed (8.5% vs 5.4%, p=0.55). Ninety-five neonates were treated with needle aspiration (NA); 40 (42%) subsequently avoided ICC insertion. Twelve (13%) neonates transported without ICC had insertion within 24 hours following transport.

Conclusion Many neonates with pneumothorax are transported without ICC, with low incidence of deterioration and ICC insertion within 24 hours after transport. More than a third of neonates managed with NA avoided ICC insertion. The likelihood of ICC insertion is increased by lower GA, MV prior to retrieval team arrival and radiographical MS.

  • Neonatology
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Emergency Care

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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