Pneumothorax is a condition that collapses the lung due to accumulation of air in the thoracic cavity. Spontaneously pneumothorax can occur without any underlying disease or condition. Sometimes it develops as a process due to underlying disease. Slowly, the air leaks into the gap available between the lungs and chest wall exerting force on the lungs making it to collapse. Even injury or strong blow to the lungs (during surgical procedures) can cause pneumothorax. This condition can be treated by aspiration or removal of free air collected in the chest cavity. In some cases the entire lungs collapses due to pneumothorax and in other cases only a portion of the lung collapses.
Sudden chest pain is the first symptom of pneumothorax. Unlike other chest pain which worsens during inhaling air this type of chest pain stays on the same position and intensity. As the lung collapses either partially or fully it causes shortness of breath either in mild form or severely. If there is breathing difficulty and sudden chest pain you should visit the nearest hospital without delay. Prompt treatment is necessary when a person suffers from breathing problem with chest pain. It can be indicative of other problems also.
Lung collapse or pneumothorax can occur due to sudden chest injury or due to lung infection or disease. In some cases, pneumothorax may develop without any obvious reason. Chest injury can be the outcome of gunshot, car accident, sudden blow, and fracture in the ribs, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, lung biopsy and certain medical procedures.
Underlying lung infection like pneumonia, tuberculosis, emphysema, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis and pulmonary fibrosis can cause pneumothorax. Sometimes, minute quantities of air blisters (called blebs) may develop on the top of lungs. Apparently there is no cause why only certain people develop these blebs. Certain procedures of flying or scuba diving may lead to the formation of blebs. People who are put on artificial respiration methods like ventilator have chance for developing pneumothorax. It can also develop due to prolonged asthma, COPD and lung cancer.
Who are at risk?
Men are at increased risk for developing pneumothorax when compared with women. Individuals of age group 20-40 years and those who are very thin and tall are prone to develop this problem. Having lung disease like pulmonary fibrosis or cystic fibrosis and prolonged use of ventilator machine for breathing can also develop pneumothorax. Genetics play a role for causing this disease. People with family history of pneumothorax are prone to this sudden lung collapse.
Pneumothorax if unattended can lead to cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. In severe cases it can cause death.
Chest X-ray of the affected person can show exact picture of lung collapse. Sometimes your doctor may request for imaging tests like CT for getting detailed image of the disease.
The aim of the treatment is to relieve the pressure caused by air leakage from the lungs. The method of treatment depends on the severity of pneumothorax and how far the lung has collapsed causing damage. Observation and monitoring is enough for individuals who have small portion of lung collapse. Your doctor will monitor the health condition by chest X-rays and watch whether the air is getting absorbed completely and if the lung has expanded fully to the normal position. If required, your doctor may give supplemental oxygen for speeding up the process.
Chest tube insertion is the process in which hollow tube is inserted into the ribs of the lung cage to remove the air. Through the needle a syringe is attached on the other end so that the doctor can blow out the excess of air. For some people, chest tubes are attached for several days to the patient so that suction device can be used to pump out the excess air.
Surgery is done for closing the air leakage in the lungs. It can be done by making small incision through special long handled tools. The surgeon will look for blebs inside and sew it properly. He would also apply talk like material in the space so that it prevents leakage of air in future.
Pictures of Pneumothorax :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Pneumothorax
Most of the cases of pneumothorax surgery will resolve. Small air leakage will not require any surgery and can be managed by other methods like chest tube insertion. In case if the problem arises due to long term lung infections then it carries risk. Further such type of pneumothorax requires immediate medical attention. In many cases pneumothorax (lung collapse) may recur again (about 40%). Hence once you are diagnosed with pneumothorax it is necessary to monitor your health condition continuously.