A tension pneumothorax is a severe condition that results when air is trapped in the pleural space under positive pressure, displacing mediastinal structures, and compromising cardiopulmonary function. Early recognition of this condition is life-saving both outside the hospital and in a modern ICU. Needle thoracentesis should be performed immediately followed by chest tube insertion.
A kit has been prepared for needle thoracentesis that contains skin prep, gauze, 2 x 14 G (7 cm) IV catheter, 10 ml syringe, and tape to secure.
ANY patient with a pneumothorax receiving positive pressure ventilation or being air medivaced should have a chesty tube placed prophylactically to avoid the development of a tension pneumothorax.