Thoracic Oncology and Chest Procedures Network


Pleural Disease Section

Aspirate or wait: changing the paradigm for PSP care

There is considerable heterogeneity in the management of primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP). Although observation for small asymptomatic PSP is supported by current guidelines, management recommendations for larger PSP remains unclear (MacDuff, et al. Thorax. 2010;65[Suppl 2]:ii18-ii31; Tschopp JM, et al. Eur Respir J. 2015;46[2]:321). Two recent RCTs explore conservative vs intervention-based management in those with larger or symptomatic PSP. In the PSP trial, Brown and colleagues prospectively randomized 316 patients with moderate to large PSP to either conservative management (≥ 4 hour observation) or small-bore chest tube without suction (Brown, et al. N Engl J Med. 2020;382[5]:405). Although noninferiority criteria were met, the primary outcome of radiographic resolution of pneumothorax within 8 weeks of randomization was not statistically robust to conservative assumptions about missing data. They concluded that conservative management was noninferior to intervention, and it resulted in a lower risk of serious adverse events or PSP recurrence than interventional management. The multicenter randomized Ambulatory Management of Primary Pneumothorax (RAMPP) trial compared ambulatory management of PSP using an 8F drainage device to a guideline-driven approach (drainage, aspiration, or both) amongst 236 patients with symptomatic PSP. Intervention shortened length of hospital stay (median 0 vs 4 days, P<.0001), but the intervention arm experienced more adverse events (including enlargement of pneumothorax, as well as device malfunction) (Hallifax RJ, et al. Lancet. 2020;396[10243]:39). These two trials challenge the current guidelines for management for patients with PSP, but both had limitations. Though more data are needed to establish a clear consensus, these studies suggest that a conservative pathway for PSP warrants further consideration.

Tejaswi R. Nadig, MBBS

Yaron Gesthalter, MD

Priya P. Nath, MD

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