What is Pneumothorax?

It is the medical condition that occurs due to collection of air in the pleural cavity, which causes lungs to collapse and separate from the chest wall. Pneumothorax occurs when the inhaled air leaks into the open spaces between the lung and chest wall, creating a pushing pressure and causing a portion of the lung to collapse. The disease is caused by a blunt or a powerful chest injury, certain medical procedures, or damage due to underlying lung disease. There are still many unknown reasons. The early indications include sudden sharp chest pain and breathlessness. A collapsed lung can be fatal and claim life if ignored. Treatment for pneumothorax involves inserting a flexible tube or needle between the ribs to remove excess air. However, a minor pneumothorax often recovers on its own.


Some symptoms are common with many other health problems and are life threatening too. The main indications for pneumothorax are:

  • Unexpected chest pain.
  • Breathlessness.
  • Severe pain.
  • Dry cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Low blood pressure.


The main causes of this disease are:

  • Chest injury.
  • Lung disease.
  • Ruptured air blisters.
  • Mechanical ventilation.


Lungs are important organ of the human body. A collapsed lung can cause severe health issues. The main risk factors associated with pneumothorax are:

  • Gender.
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • Age.
  • Genetics.
  • Lung disease.
  • Mechanical ventilation.
  • Previous history of pneumothorax. 



In order to prevent the occurrence of this disease, one should take care of the following:

  • Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • Wearing a seatbelt while in a motor vehicle.
  • Avoiding SCUBA diving.

How is it diagnosed?

At Medanta, our doctor will note down the medical and family history of the patients, along with the symptoms and their severity. Following are the means to diagnose the disease: 


How is it treated?

At Medanta, the primary goal of the treatment is to relieve symptoms by removing pressure from the lungs, and allowing it to expand and contract normally. In case of a trauma to the chest, holding a pillow against the chest will help provide relie..

  • Observation method

    If the doctor observes that only a small portion of the lung has collapsed, he may recommend follow-up visits to keep a check on the condition of the lungs. A series of X-rays can help analyse if the air has been absorbed or has not allowed the lung to re-expand. The entire process may take 2- 3 weeks to normalize.


  • Needle or chest tube insertion

    To provide relief from tension pneumothorax, emergency removal of air is performed. A needle with the help of a syringe is inserted inside the chest to remove excess air. The syringe acts as the suction device and pulls out the air.


  • Surgery

    Cases where chest tube does not relieve pressure, or pneumothorax has reoccurred, corrective surgery may be required. With the help of a small incision, a tiny fiber optic is inserted. The surgeon with the help of a camera looks for openings and blebs, so as to close them.

When do I contact the doctor?

You should immediately consult a doctor if you begin to experience severe chest pain which does not subside and cough with blood after any form of a chest injury. All these symptoms will be properly taken care of by our medical experts. 

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