Medical Definition of Tension pneumothorax

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

Tension pneumothorax: The accumulation of air under pressure in the pleural space. An imminent danger is that the lung will collapse under the pressure. In tension pneumothorax, what happens is that air enters the pleural cavity and is trapped there during expiration so the air pressure within the thorax mounts higher than atmospheric pressure, compresses the lung, may displace the mediastinum and its structures (including the lung) toward the opposite side, and cause cardiopulmonary impairment. Also called pressure pneumothorax,

Picture of Pneumothorax (Collapsed Lung)

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018