Pneumothorax


pneumothoraxWhat is pneumothorax?

By the term “pneumothorax” we mean the presence of air within the pleural cavity, ie within the space around the lungs and below the thoracic wall. It is always abnormal as a situation, since there is not normally have air within the pleural cavity.

How is pneumothorax classified?

Pneumothorax can be classified as follows:

  • Primary spontaneous pneumothorax.  This can happen to normal individuals, more commonly young smokers. Prerequisition is that the individual is otherwise normal, without any pulmonary disease apart from pneumothorax.
  • Secondary spontaneous pneumothorax. This can be caused due to a predisposing lung disease.
  • Traumatic pneumothorax. It can result from a trauma of thorax.

What are the symptoms of pneumothorax?

Symptoms can vary accordingly if pneumothorax is either primary spontaneous or secondary etc. In general, primary spontaneous pneumothorax does not cause any intense symptoms. On the contrary, secondary spontaneous pneumothorax is characterized by severy symptoms and needs a different management. As a clinical entity, pneumothorax can cause the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Dyspnea
  • Tachypnea
  • Cough
  • Cyanosis

Unfortunately those symptoms are not specific for pneumothorax and as a result patient may deteriorate until the proper tests are done in order to be diagnosed with pneumothorax.

How is pneumothorax diagnosed?

Your doctor will take your medical history, will examine you and if he thinks that pneumothorax is possible, he will ask you to have a Chest Xray. If there is any doubt, he may ask for a CT-Chest, an imaging test that showes in greater detail your lungs.

What is the treatment of pneumothorax?

Treatment depends on the cause of pneumothorax. In mild cases of primary spontaneous pneumothorax, there is the possibility of “wait and watch” strategy and re-evaluation after some hours-days.  In general the therapeutic choises are the following:

  • Wait and watch
  • Needle aspiration of air
  • Chest drainage
  • Surgery

A very important point is that if someone has suffered from pneumothorax and he smokes, he should immediately stop smoking, because the probabilities of relapse are higher in smokers.
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