Spontaneous Pneumothorax

Definition: Collapse of the lung with air between the lung and the ribs.   The lung is collapsed so the breathing is difficult.

Causes: Blebs, Lung Disease, or Trauma.


Symptoms of Spontaneous Pneumothorax

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest wall pain
Risk Factors

Risk Factors of Spontaneous Pneumothorax

  • Sex:
    • Young men 20-30 years old may develop a collapsed lung that is usually associated with a bleb (like a blister) on the surface of the lung
    • Women age 30-40 may develop catamenial PTX associated with Endometriosis and their menstrual cycle,
  • Genetic: Birt Hogg Dube(BHD) syndrome is an autosomal dominant genetic disorder that causes pneumothorax, and may also cause kidney cancer, kidney and lung cysts, and noncancerous tumors of the hair follicles, called fibrofolliculomas. Although lung cysts occur in 84% of patients with BHD, only 24% will have a PTX.
  • Smoking: Can cause emphysema which causes bullae (holes in the lungs) that may rupture
  • Lung Disease: Emphysema, LAM (lymphangiolyomyomatosis) 65% will develop a PTX and  average 3.6 episodes
  • Sporatic: Some cases are just random

Treatment of Spontaneous Pneumothorax

Initial treatment is either observation if the patient is stable, not hypoxic and the pneumothorax is small. If the patient is unstable, hypoxic, or the pneumothorax is large, then the pleura is drained with a catheter or a chest tube. Usually, the pneumothorax and the air leak will resolve.