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Photo of a Heimlich valve

The Heimlich valve is a check valve for mounting on a horizontal chest drain . The rubber hose attached inside prevents air from flowing back into the pleural cavity and thus preventing a pneumothorax from enlarging . The valve is used both in emergency medicine and for the in-hospital supply of chest drains.

The valve was described in 1967 by the American doctor Henry Heimlich . Compared to the water lock systems that are still used in hospitals today, it should offer increased patient safety, especially in emergency care and patient transport.


  • Henry J. Heimlich Valve Drainage of the Pleural Cavity . CHEST March 1968 vol. 53 no. 3 282–287.
  • ER Munnell: Thoracic Drainage . Ann. Thorac. Surg. May 1, 1997 63: 1497-1502.