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FAQ Frequently asked questions
What is a pneumothorax?
A pneumothorax is a collapsed lung, a condition that occurs when air leaks into the cavity - called the pleural space - between the lungs and chest wall.
What are the symptoms of pneumothorax?
A pneumothorax does not always cause any symptoms, but if they do occur, they may include shortness of breath, chest pain and a rapid heart rate.
What causes pneumothorax?
There are different types of pneumothoraces, each of which has a specific cause. Some have no known cause and occur in those without any apparent underlying condition. Others may be due to a penetrating or blunt chest trauma or medical procedure. Yet another group …
How is pneumothorax diagnosed?
Diagnosis of pneumothorax is usually based on physical examination and a chest X-ray, except for tension pneumothorax, which is a medical emergency and is diagnosed without any imaging or other tests.
How is pneumothorax treated?
The treatment for pneumothorax can vary depending on its type and severity. Non-surgical treatment may include observation, needle aspiration and chest tube insertion. Surgical treatment may involve video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery.
Can pneumothorax be prevented?
Due to the strong link between cigarette smoke and developing a pneumothorax, quitting smoking can reduce the risk of pneumothorax.
Will pneumothorax keep coming back?
There is a considerable risk of a pneumothorax recurring within five years of the first episode. The risk for recurrence varies depending on the type, the treatment used and what underlying lung conditions are present.
What increases the chances of developing pneumothorax?
Risk factors for pneumothorax include: being a tall, thin adult male aged between 18-40 years; being a smoker; having a family history of pneumothoraces, and; having an underlying lung condition.
About this article
Author: Dr Idan Ben-Barak PhD, MSc, BSc (Med)
First answered: 15 Jul 2015
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
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