Mon, 29 Jan 2024

Pneumothorax: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options

Pneumothorax, commonly called collapsed lung, is a serious medical condition when air gets trapped or accumulates inside the pleural space. The pleural space is the area between the lungs and the chest wall.

The condition can either be mild and treated by keeping the patient under observation or can become severe and require immediate medical attention.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything there is to know about pneumothorax, its causes, diagnosis, and treatment. You can also consult Dr Arvind Kumar for more and detailed information.

Chest pain- Sudden, sharp chest pain on the same side as the affected lung.

Shortness of breath- This may be mild or severe, depending on how much of your lung is collapsed and whether you have underlying lung disease.

What are the common causes of Pneumothorax?

There are two main categories of pneumothorax medically distinguished, each with a list of causes.

1. Spontaneous pneumothorax

This is further subdivided into two categories:

  • Primary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs without underlying lung disease and is common in tall and thin individuals.
  • Secondary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs due to pre-existing lung diseases or ailments like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, or cystic fibrosis.

2. Traumatic pneumothorax

This kind of pneumothorax happens due to sudden chest trauma that can happen due to accidents, rib fractures, or severe penetrating injuries.

Understanding the causes of pneumothorax is quintessential to ensure that the patient gets timely and tailored treatment for quicker recovery.

What are the symptoms of Pneumothorax?

The most common signs and symptoms of pneumothorax include:

  • Feeling sudden and sharp pain on one side of the chest
  • The pain exacerbates when one is coughing or breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heart rate or tachycardia
  • The bluish color of the skin, otherwise known as cyanosis,
Depending on the symptoms, one must assess whether or not the patient requires immediate medical attention. In most cases, it is better to consult a specialist like Dr Arvind Kumar immediately after the onset of the symptoms to ensure that things are under control.

How is Pneumothorax diagnosed?

The diagnosis of pneumothorax depends on two routes:

Physical examination

This involves the specialist conducting a physical examination to assess the extent of the lung collapse. The signs the doctor looks for during a physical examination include reduced chest movement on one side and a hyper-resonant percussion note.

Imaging tests

To see the extent of the damage, the specialist will prescribe imaging tests like chest X-ray and CT scans to confirm the presence of pneumothorax and evaluate the extent of the damage that’s been caused. If the patient has a history of pneumothorax, a CT scan is ordered immediately.

How is Pneumothorax treated?

Following the confirmed diagnosis, there are two modes of treatment depending on the severity of the collapse.

Non-surgical pneumothorax treatments

  • The most common route of treatment is observation. This is advised in patients with small and stable pneumothorax. The patient is advised bed rest and oxygen therapy for quicker recovery.
  • In some cases, needle aspiration is done to remove the excess accumulated air from the pleural space to alleviate the symptoms in the patient.
  • In cases of larger or more severe pneumothorax, a chest tube insertion allows the trapped air to escape and re-expand the lungs.

Surgical pneumothorax treatments

  • One of the most common surgical treatments for pneumothorax is Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS), which can effectively treat recurrent and persistent pneumothorax.
  • In cases VATS is unsuitable, a traditional open surgery called thoracotomy may be performed, where a large incision is made on the chest for direct access to the pleural space.
  • Lastly, a surgical treatment called pleurodesis is also effective for treating recurrent pneumothorax. It involves the irritation of the pleural lining with substances like talc or doxycycline, causing the pleural layers to stick together and prevent further air leakage.
Irrespective of the route of treatment, pneumothorax is a severe condition that requires close monitoring and immediate medical interventions if things progress out of hand.

When to see a doctor

One should seek immediate medical help in case of sudden chest pain and troubled breathing. Many conditions other than pneumothorax can cause these symptoms, and most require an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. A patient with severe chest pain and progressive breathing difficulty should get immediate emergency care.

Why Choose Us 

Pneumothorax is a potentially serious medical condition that requires prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Early intervention and proper medical care from reliable and renowned specialists like Dr Arvind Kumar can lead to successful outcomes for individuals struggling with pneumothorax.

If you are experiencing pneumothorax symptoms and need professional advice and guidance, schedule an immediate consultation with Dr. Arvind Kumar for a timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment.