A pneumothorax is a collapsed lung caused by air between the lung (pleural space) and the chest wall. The air pushes onto the outside portion of the lung, forcing it to collapse.

Important: Just like a hemothorax, this too is a medical emergency.

People who have had a pneumothorax in the past may have another in the future.


● Motor vehicle accident
● While inserting a PICC Line for medical procedures
● Cystic fibrosis
● Pneumonia
● A ruptured air blister (blebs that burst and allows air to leak inside the lungs)
● Mechanical ventilation malfunction
● Knife or gunshot wounds to the chest
● Smoking


● Increased anxiety because they are having increased chest pain,
● Increased heart rate,
● Rapid, shallow breathing.
● Shortness of breath.
● Absent breath sounds from the affected lung


● Chest X-ray
● CT scans


● Treat the underlying causes for a collapsed lung.
● Stabilize the patient by inserting a chest tube through the chest wall between the ribs.
● The chest tube remains until the lung has re-expanded.

Note: There is no way to prevent a collapsed lung.

Figure 1: Human lungs with pneumothorax, hemothorax and hemopneumothorax


Borke, J. (2019). Collapsed lung (pneumothorax). https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000087.htm

Logika600. (2020). Human lungs with pneumothorax, hemothorax and hemopneumothorax.
[Diagram]. https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/human-lungs-pneumothorax-hemothorax-hemopneu

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