Needle thoracostomy


Equipment Needed

  • 5cm 14 to 16 gauge IV needle/catheter
  • 5 or 10mL syringe


  • Insert 5 cm 14 to 16 gauge IV needle catheter attached to syringe along superior margin of 2nd or 3rd rib in midclavicular line
    • Evidence suggests lowest failure rate of needle decompression is at the 4th/5th rib space along the anterior axillary line [1]
  • Advance needle until air is aspirated to syringe
  • Withdraw needle
  • Leave angiocatheter open to air
  • Immediate rush of air out of chest = tension pneumothorax
  • Follow immediately with standard thoracostomy tube


See Also

External Links


  • Roberts, 179
  • Wolfson, 82, 129
  1. Laan DV et al. Chest Wall Thickness and Decompression Failure: A systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Coparing Anatomic Locations in Needle Thoracostomy. Injury 2015 [Epub Ahead of Print]. PMID: 26724173