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December 21, 1984

Pneumothorax as a Complication of Placement of a Nasoenteric Tube

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1984;252(23):3287-3288. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350230047032

History  A 68-year-old mentally retarded woman was hospitalized for evaluation of severe anemia because of a deficiency of iron. On admission, her hemoglobin level was 4.7 g. During the examination, she was observed to be severely depressed, and her nutritional status obviously was poor. Because she refused to eat, placement of a nasoenteric tube was attempted for alimentation. Roentgenograms of the chest were obtained after passage of the tube.Figure 1, left, shows the malpositioned feeding tube passing down the right main bronchus and lying coiled in the pleural space. Figure 1, right, is a film obtained several hours later.

Diagnosis  Right-sided pneumothorax. The roentgenograms demonstrated that a right-sided pneumothorax had developed (Fig 1), produced by perforation of the right main bronchus by a malpositioned nasoenteric tube.

Comment  Nasoenteric tubes are used frequently as a means of alimentation in hospitalized patients. The feeding tube is frequently a thin plastic catheter