ABC Medical Center > Pneumothorax

What is Pneumothorax?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


It is when a lung collapses partially or totally. It is a condition that arises at the moment in which, for some reason, the air leaves the lung, filling the space between the chest and the lung, causing high pressure that prevents this organ’s normal expansion, causing it to collapse.

The most common causes of pneumothorax are trauma, gunshot or stab wounds, rib fractures, ruptured air blisters, receiving mechanical ventilation, certain invasive medical procedures, or the effect of a lung condition such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, or pneumonia.

The most common symptoms are sudden sore chest and breathing difficulties, where obviously, the intensity of the symptoms will depend on the collapse magnitude, considering that sometimes it can have fatal consequences.

When we are faced with the presence of a severe pneumothorax, the indicated treatment consists of suppressing the excessive air through a pleural tube or a needle.

Signs and symptoms Pneumothorax

They appear suddenly, the two most important symptoms being the lack of lung capacity and chest pain, so it is important to go to the ABC Medical Center Emergency Room if the pain is very intense and you need more and more air to breathe.

Potential risks:

  • Family history.
  • Having suffered a pneumothorax before.
  • Used a ventilator.
  • Smoking.
  • Age: it usually occurs to a greater extent between the ages of 18 and 42.
  • Sex: males are more likely to develop it.

Diagnosis and treatment Pneumothorax

The best way to detect a severe pneumothorax is through imaging studies such as:

  • X-rays.
  • Ultrasound.
  • Computed tomography.

The purpose of the treatment is to remove the air generated by the excess pressure in the lung to make its expansion normal again, although there are very mild cases in which the pneumothorax is repaired naturally without the need for any therapy. The therapeutic options include:

  • Air suppression with a needle or chest tube.
  • Solution without surgery:
    • Substances to stop the air leak.
    • Autologous blood plug.
    • One-way valve.
  • Surgical solution: depending on the magnitude of the air leak, the surgical procedure can be more or less invasive, so if there is a larger leak or simultaneous leaks, larger incisions will have to be made in the ribs area to have an optimal vision and much greater room to maneuver.

If you are experiencing a possible serious pneumothorax, remember to go to the ABC Medical Center Emergency Room to receive immediate medical attention and save your life or that of your loved ones.


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  • Karol RJ, Díaz CJM. Neumotórax espontaneo en paciente gestante. Revista Cubana de Cirugía. 2020;59(3):1-11.

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