What is Pneumothorax?

Pneumothorax is a condition in which air accumulates in the pleural space between the lungs and chest wall, resulting in a partial or total collapse of the affected lung. It is commonly caused by external trauma or due to a disruption in the lung tissue.

Causes of Pneumothorax

The most common cause of pneumothorax is a disruption of the lung tissue such as a puncture of the membrane due to trauma, illness or accident. In some cases, the condition can be caused by ruptured airspaces in the lungs such as bullae, known as spontaneous pneumothorax. This condition can also occur in individuals with pre-existing conditions such as COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis or carcinoid syndrome.

Symptoms of Pneumothorax

  • Pain during breathing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Rapid heart rate

Diagnosing Pneumothorax

The diagnosis of pneumothorax is usually made with a chest X-ray, which can show if there is air outside the lungs. In some cases, a CT scan may be ordered in order to determine the size of the pneumothorax as well as any associated diseases.

Treatment for Pneumothorax

Treatment for pneumothorax depends on the type and the severity. The first line of treatment for a traumatic pneumothorax is usually closed chest drainage, which involves the insertion of a tube into the chest to drain the air. For spontaneous pneumothorax, the doctor may recommend chest tube placement, oxygen therapy, or surgery.