Overview

A pneumothorax (noo-moe-THOR-aks) is a collapsed lung. A pneumothorax occurs when air leaks into the space between your lung and chest wall. This air pushes on the outside of your lung and makes it collapse. In most cases, only a portion of the lung collapses.

A pneumothorax can be caused by a blunt or penetrating chest injury, certain medical procedures, or damage from underlying lung disease. Or it may occur for no obvious reason. Symptoms usually include sudden chest pain and shortness of breath. On some occasions, a collapsed lung can be a life-threatening event.

Treatment for a pneumothorax usually involves inserting a flexible tube or needle between the ribs to remove the excess air. However, a small pneumothorax may heal on its own.

Jan. 28, 2016
References
  1. Mason RJ, et al. Pneumothorax, chylothorax, hemothorax, and fibrothorax. In: Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 6, 2015.
  2. Ferri FF. Pneumothorax, spontaneous. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 6, 2015.
  3. Tintinalli JE, et al. Spontaneous and iatrogenic pneumothorax. In: Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Nov. 6, 2015.
  4. AskMayoExpert. Pneumothorax. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  5. Light RW. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 6, 2015.
  6. Light RW. Secondary spontaneous pneumothorax in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 6, 2015.
  7. Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Collapsed lung (pneumothorax). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2009.