Pneumothorax - Treatment

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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.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: suumee2, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 01

I'm an active but still overweight middle-aged woman. I never had any sort of medical problems, and I'm 5 feet 10 inches tall. I smoked for 15 years; I started when I was 13. I quit in my early 30s right after I had pneumonia, but I smoked right through it. How dumb is that? I had two children by C-section and I was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic in my 40s, which for most of the time has been under control until recently when I began to have trouble with my breathing. In June 2009, I had a major pneumothorax. I had no idea what was wrong with me. It was a quiet Saturday morning and I was reading my paper and sipping morning coffee with my feet up. My husband had gone off to work. I had sharp pain upon standing and had difficulty breathing and thought I was having a heart attack. My hospital is five blocks, and I drove myself. I practically crawled into the ER where I had portable X-rays and chest tubes inserted right there. The diagnosis was spontaneous and probably a bleb. I had suction for over a week, and larger tubing was ordered after four days. I was finally released and felt good. My thoracic surgeon told me about the chances of reoccurrence and what the options would be including repair (sticky lung treatment). In May 2010, I felt a sharp familiar twinge and knew almost immediately. I went back to the ER, and they had to inject dye to see if in fact there was another collapse and only did that based on my "life threatening" collapse less than a year prior. It was there but very small. So I was again admitted on a Friday, tubed, and surgery was scheduled for Monday. I had the surgery, remained another day, and was sent home. I had only one follow-up to see how the surgery went, and in a few weeks, I went back to work. I saw the surgeon by accident at my place of work and asked if the pain I had in my ribs would ever go away. He very bluntly answered no. I broke down and cried immediately. I know after surgery there can be residual pain. But painforever. I was never told what could be the after effects of this condition or what to look for if anything. I had no idea that I could have breathing issues, and I am just learning now. I just wish I had been advised to see someone else, told about additional conditions, and given follow-up information. I wouldn't have waited with my breathlessness and tired muscles for so long. No wonder I'm stressed and my glucose levels are elevating with no change in my habits.

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Comment from: jt, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: February 28

In 1985 I had a 65% collapse on the left lung and a chest tube was inserted. I had a growth spurt one year earlier of 3/4 inch in one month (age 24). I was and am a typical candidate for tension pneumothorax, tall lean male with late growth spurt. In 1987 I had another major collapse that required surgery to cut the blebs out of the left lung. 1997 I had a 10% collapse of the right lung, no surgery or chest tube was required. Since then I have been fine; the odd twinge that was written off as scar tissue. Last week I had a 5% in the left lung. I am hoping this will be the last one. One thing that my physician and I are examining is other issues I"ve had that all relate to connective tissue development. We believe that the early development of connective tissue during the first trimester is critical; my biological mother was under nourished during this time and did not know she was pregnant.

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