Automated Optical Chest Tube Air Leak Detection System

Tech ID: 27586 / UC Case 2016-049-0


UCLA researchers in the Department of Surgery have developed an air leak detection system for use in patients requiring chest tube placement.


The standard “state of the art” in the vast majority of medical situations requiring chest tube placement is for the tube to be connected to a “collection system” which includes a “waterseal” chamber to manually detect pulmonary air leaks. Recently, the ThopazTM­ collection system has been introduced and consists of a proprietary drainage system used to remove air and liquids, similar to common chest tubes.However, the additional feature of air flow and pressure detectors provides clinicians with information regarding the presence and extent of air leakage.The drawback is that this system requires the purchase of a completely new “electronic” system and significant personnel training.This has kept it from gaining traction in the clinic.


Researchers at UCLA have developed an air leak detection system that consists of a LED and photo-detector placed on the “waterseal chamber” portion of a chest tube drainage system that is normally used clinically to visibly detect air leaks. This system is connected to a computer system that generates a time log of the amount of air leaking out of the chest tube drainage system and allows for 24 hour monitoring. It also alerts hospital staff in case of irregular behavior.


Management and monitoring of chest tube drainage systems


  • Allows for 24 hour monitoring of chest tube drainage systems
  • Does not require significant personnel training
  • Does not require purchase additional “electronic” system
  • Allows for simple automatic monitoring of air leaks
  • Can be easily attached to existing drainage systems currently being used in the clinic

Patent Status

Patent Pending

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  • Benharash, Peyman
  • Benharash, Peyman

Other Information


Chest tube, chest tube drainage system, pleural effusion, autonomous monitoring, air leak detection

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