Pneumothorax (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

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


The American Lung Association

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Pneumothorax - Describe Your Experience Question: Please describe your experience with pneumothorax.
Pneumothorax - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your pneumothorax?
Pneumothorax - Treatment Question: Were you hospitalized for your pneumothorax? What types of treatment did you receive, including medication?