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Pneumothorax and Air Leak: Guide to Collapsed Lungs And its Treatment


Air leak refers to the extrusion of air from cavities like the gastrointestinal tract, sinuses, and upper airway. Pneumothorax refers to a collapsed lung where the location of free air is in between the lungs and chest wall.

Men between the age of 10 and 30, especially the ones with Marfan’s syndrome are at high risk of traumatic pneumothorax. [1]

- Pneumothorax and air leak affects usually people between the age of 20 and 40 years.
- It is a short-term condition and can be resolved in a few days.
- Lab tests and imaging are most often required.
- Though critical, it can be treated by an expert medical professional.

Pneumothorax is one of the most common and frequently occurring air leaks. Causes for Pneumothorax and air leak are the injury to the chest, COPD, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, blebs, a fractured rib, and mechanical ventilation. There are certain risk factors to Pneumothorax like family history, smoking, and body type (tall and thin).


Symptoms of Pneumothorax depends on the severity, whether mild or severe. Some symptoms include:
- Sudden and sharp chest pain
- Shoulder pain
- Cough
- Shortness of breath
- Nasal flaring
- Fatigue
- Rapid heart rate
- Bluish skin

- Severe cases of Pneumothorax must be brought to the doctor immediately.
- Diagnosis for Pneumothorax and air leak is done by chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, ultrasound, and CT scan.


- Prevention methods that can help in the recurrence of Pneumothorax are:
- Regular follow-up with the doctor
- Avoidance of flights after the diagnosis
- Avoidance of smoking
- Avoidance of diving
- Insertion of needle between the ribs (Needle aspiration)
- Supplemental oxygen
- Lung surgery
- Pleurodesis (chemical or mechanical)
- VATS procedure
- Open chest thoracotomy

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