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Reifferscheid, Florian; Seewald, Stephan; Eimer, Christine; Otto, Matthias; Rudolph, Marcus; Richter, Anja; Hoffmann, Florian; Viergutz, Tim and Terboven, Tom (2021): Die prähospitale Therapie eines Spannungspneumothorax bei Kindern – welche Entscheidungen treffen wir? Ergebnisse einer Umfrage unter deutschen Notärzten. In: Anaesthesist, Vol. 70, No. 11: pp. 928-936

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Abstract

Background The preclinical treatment of a traumatic or spontaneous tension pneumothorax remains a particular challenge in pediatric patients. Currently recommended interventions for decompression are either finger thoracostomy or needle decompression. Due to the tiny intercostal spaces, finger thoracostomy may not be feasible in small children and surgical preparation may be necessary. In needle decompression, the risk of injuring underlying vital structures is increased because of the smaller anatomic structures. As most emergency physicians do not regularly work in pediatric trauma care, decompression of tension pneumothorax is associated with significant uncertainty;however, in this rare emergency situation, consistent and goal-oriented action is mandatory and lifesaving. An assessment of pre-existing experience and commonly used techniques therefore seems necessary to deduce the need for future education and training. Objective In this study an online survey was created to evaluate the experience and the favored prehospital treatment of tension pneumothorax in children among German emergency physicians. Material and methods An online survey was conducted with 43 questions on previous experience with tension pneumothorax in children, favored decompression technique and anatomical structures in different age groups. Surveyed were the emergency physicians of the ground-based emergency medical service of the University Medical Center Mannheim, the German Air Rescue Service (DRF) and the pediatric emergency medical service of the City of Munich. Results More than half of all respondents stated that there was uncertainty about the procedure of choice. Needle decompression was favored in smaller children and mini-thoracostomy in older children. In comparison with the literature, the thickness of the chest wall was mostly estimated correctly by the emergency medical physicians. The depth of the vital structures was underestimated at most of the possible insertion sites in all age groups. At the lateral insertion sites on the left hemithorax, however, the distance to the left ventricle was overestimated. The caliber of the needle selected for decompression tended to be too large, especially in younger children. Conclusion Even though having interviewed an experienced group of prehospital emergency physicians, the experience in decompression of tension pneumothorax in children is relatively scant. Knowledge of chest wall thickness and depth to vital structures is sufficient, the choice of needle calibers tends to be too large but still reasonable. For many providers a large amount of uncertainty about the right choice of technique and equipment arises from the challenge of decompressing a tension pneumothorax in children and therefore further theoretical education and regular training are required for safe performance of the procedure.

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