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Bilateral Pneumothoraces in a Trauma Patient After Dobhoff Tube Insertion

Ali Abidali, Alicia Mangram, Gina R. Shirah, Whitney Wilson, Ahmed Abidali, Phillip Moeser, James K. Dzandu

(Department of General Surgery, HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2018; 19:244-248

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.906846


BACKGROUND: Dobhoff tube insertion is a common procedure used in the clinical setting to deliver enteral nutrition. Although it is often viewed as an innocuous bedside procedure, there are risks for numerous complications such as tracheobronchial insertion, which could lead to deleterious consequences. We present to our knowledge the first reported case of bilateral pneumothoraces caused by the insertion of a Dobhoff tube. In addition, we also discuss common pitfalls for confirming the positioning of Dobhoff tubes, as well as risk factors that can predispose a patient to improper tube placement.
CASE REPORT: We present the case of a 74-year-old male patient with multiple orthopedic injuries following an auto-pedestrian collision. Five attempts were made to place a Dobhoff tube to maintain enteral nutrition. Follow-up abdominal x-ray revealed displacement of the Dobhoff tube in the left pleural space. After removal of the tube, a follow-up chest x-ray revealed iatrogenic bilateral pneumothoraces. Acute hypoxemic respiratory failure ensued; therefore, bilateral chest tubes were placed. Over the next three weeks, the patient’s respiratory status improved and both chest tubes were removed. The patient was eventually discharged to a skilled nursing facility.
CONCLUSIONS: Improper placement of Dobhoff tubes can lead to rare complications such as bilateral pneumothoraces. This unique case report of bilateral pneumothoraces after Dobhoff tube placement emphasizes the necessity of using proper diagnostic techniques for verifying proper tube placement, as well as understanding the risk factors that predispose a patient to a malpositioned tube.

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