Pneumothorax (Collapsed Lung)

  • Medical Author:
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What is the treatment for pneumothorax?

A small pneumothorax without underlying lung disease may resolve on its own in one to two weeks. A larger pneumothorax and a pneumothorax associated with underlying lung disease often require aspiration of the free air and/or placement of a chest tube to evacuate the air. Possible complications of chest tube insertion include pain, infection of the space between the lung and chest wall (the pleural space), hemorrhage (bleeding), fluid accumulation in the lung, and low blood pressure (hypotension). In some cases, the leak does not close on its own. This is called a bronchopleural fistula, and may require chest surgery to repair the hole in the lung.

What is the outcome (prognosis) of pneumothorax?

The outcome of pneumothorax depends upon the extent and type of pneumothorax. A small spontaneous pneumothorax will generally resolve on its own without treatment. A secondary pneumothorax associated with underlying disease, even when small, is much more serious and carries a significant mortality (death) rate. A secondary pneumothorax requires urgent and immediate treatment. Having one pneumothorax increases the risk of developing the condition again. Most recurrences occur within the first year.

Medically reviewed by James E Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease

REFERENCE:

The American Lung Association

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2016

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