Chest tube air leak Meaning, Signs, Grading, Management, ICD-10

Chest tubes are essential medical equipment that are utilized in the treatment of various thoracic disorders. However, they can occasionally be accompanied by complications, one of which is a chest tube air leak. 


When air leaks through the chest tube into the pleural space—the space between the lung and the chest wall—it is referred to as a pneumothorax or chest tube air leak. This may cause lung collapse by interfering with the negative pressure required for lung expansion.

Chest tube air leak Meaning, Signs, Grading, Management, ICD-10


Chest Pain: People often have chest pain that is sharp or burning.

Dyspnea: People with this condition often feel short of breath.

Fewer or No Breath Sounds: When doctors examine the chest, they may hear fewer or no breath sounds on one side.

Emphysema subcutaneous: This is characterized by a sound or sensation that crackles beneath the skin, often in the neck and chest.

Low blood pressure: This can happen in severe cases.

Tachycardia: An abnormally accelerated heart rate may occur.

Cyanosis: A bluish staining of the skin caused by a lack of oxygen.

Altered Mental Status: Patients may experience confusion or disorientation occasionally.

Grading Chest Tube Air Leaks

Chest tube leaks are usually rated based on their severity. Healthcare professionals can choose the best course of action with the aid of the grading system.

Grade I

Grade I leaks are frequently minor and asymptomatic. They can be handled cautiously and might not need for quick action.

Grade II

These leaks have a moderate size and may exhibit minimal symptoms. They frequently call for a medical examination and treatment.

Grade III

Grade III leaks are larger and more noticeable. In most situations, these cases need immediate medical treatment and care.

Grade IV

Grade IV Severe leakage has the potential to cause potentially fatal consequences. Timely intervention is necessary, potentially involving surgery. 


Chest tube air leakage is treated according to their severity.

Conservative Management

Conservative management may be used for Grade I and some Grade II leaks. This entails keeping a watchful eye on the patient, giving them more oxygen, and determining whether their symptoms are getting worse.


It could be required to take action for leaks that are Grade II or above. These may entail making modifications to the chest tube, executing pleurodesis—a technique meant to stop future leaks—or, in extreme circumstances, undergoing surgery for repair.

Chest tube air leak ICD-10

J93.82 is the ICD-10 code for a chest tube air leak; it is classified as "Other air leak" in the ICD-10-CM hierarchy. This code is used to identify and classify a variety of respiratory system air leaks, including chest tube air leaks.

Chest tube air leak Meaning, Signs, Grading, Management, ICD-10 Chest tube air leak Meaning, Signs, Grading, Management, ICD-10 Reviewed by Simon Albert on September 27, 2023 Rating: 5
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