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A pneumothorax, or collapsed lung, occurs when air enters and becomes trapped in the pleural space. This can occur spontaneously (without a precipitating event), secondary to a trauma, or secondary to an underlying disease process.

Risk factors include previous spontaneous pneumothorax, underlying bullous disease related to COPD, cancer, or lung infection.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Or a patient may be asymptomatic

Interventions for treating a pneumothorax include:

  • Chest tube placement

    Initially, most patients will have a chest tube placed in the Emergency Department or Interventional Radiology on presentation with a pneumothorax. Once the lung has re-expanded, we will either remove the chest tube or, if indicated, we may offer another intervention to prevent recurrence.

  • Pleurodesis

    A pleurodesis is a procedure performed as an inpatient where we instill an agent (medication or talc) into the pleural space that causes inflammation and fibrosis. This is sometimes performed during a VATS wedge resection or we can instill the medication at the patient’s bedside via an existing chest tube.

  • Wedge resection

    This is a limited resection of the lung to remove lung blebs or bullae that have burst and caused a pneumothorax.