Prolonged air leak after pulmonary resection is a common complication and a major limiting factor for early discharge from hospital. Currently there is little consensus on its management. The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a measuring device which allows a simple digital bed-side quantification of air-leaks compatible to standard thoracic drainage systems. The measuring device (AIRFIX) is based upon a ‘mass airflow’ sensor with a specially designed software package that is connected to a thoracic suction drainage system. Its efficacy in detecting pulmonary air-leaks was evaluated in a series of 204 patients; all postoperative measurements were done under standardized conditions; the patients were asked to cough, to take a deep breath, to breathe out against the resistance of a flutter valve, to keep breath and to breathe normally. As standard parameters, the leakage per breath or cough (ml/b) as well as the leakage per minute (ml/min) were displayed and recorded on the computer. Air-leaks within a range of 0.25-45 ml/b and 5-900 ml/min were found. Removal of the chest tubes was done when leakage volume on Heimlich valve was less than 1.0 ml/b or 20 ml/min. After drain removal based upon the data from chest tube airflowmetry none of the patients needed re-drainage due to pneumothorax. The AIRFIX device for bed-side quantification of air-leaks has proved to be very simple and helpful in diagnosis and management of air-leaks after lung surgery, permitting drain removal without tentative clamping.

Anegg, Lindenmann, Matzi, Mujkic, Maier, Fritz, Smolle-Jüttner, , (2006). AIRFIX: the first digital postoperative chest tube airflowmetry–a novel method to quantify air leakage after lung resection. European journal of cardio-thoracic surgery : official journal of the European Association for Cardio-thoracic Surgery, 2006 Jun;29(6):867-72. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16675248