What is a Collapsed lung (pneumothorax)?
A collapsed lung most commonly occurs from chest trauma. These injuries are easily treated by placing a tube between the ribs into the chest. The lung will usually heal itself once fully inflated and tube placement is all that is needed in traumatic pneumothorax.
Occasionally a lung will collapse without obvious trauma. A ‘spontaneous’ pneumothorax usually occurs in tall teenage boys for no identifiable reason. The symptom is usually chest pain but may also involve shortness of breath. Frequently, patients with spontaneous pneumothorax have “blebs” or bubbles of abnormal thinned out lung tissue at the top of the lung that cause the collapse when they leak.
Many of these patients require a chest tube to reinflate the lung and many will need surgery (usually minimally invasive) to remove the blebs to reduce the likelihood of recurrence.