ZocdocAnswersWhat is pneumothorax?

Question

What is pneumothorax?

My brother was diagnosed with this disease and it sounds dangerous ! What affects will it have on him ?

Answer

There are various causes for a pneumothorax including trauma and spontaneous development. A life threatening condition can occur when a tension pneumothorax develops and displaces a patient's mediastinal structures (including heart and trachea). This can cause significant respiratory and cardiovascular compromise and requires emergent evaluation and treatment. There is no consensus on treatment of a pneumothorax and will largely depend on a patient's medical history, cause for the PTX, and degree of lung collapse and cardiovascular involvement. Treatment options include observation, supplemental oxygen delivery, needle aspiration, chest tube drainage, vacuum-assisted thoracostomy (VATS), and an open surgical procedure. These treatments have been listed in order of intensity. If a patient is stable with only a small PTX seen on chest X-ray and no clinical manifestations, the physician will likely start with a simple treatment of observation and possible supplemental oxygen. The long lasting effects, if any, will depend on the cause of and degree of the PTX. Your brother should discuss his diagnosis with his primary care physician who may refer him to a pulmonologist for further management.

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