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Collapsed Lung (cont.)

Collapsed Lung Medical Treatment

Tension pneumothorax

  • A tension pneumothorax is treated with emergency removal of air under pressure, by inserting a needle attached to a syringe into the chest cavity. If needle decompression is performed before the person gets to the emergency department, transport to the nearest hospital is necessary.
  • Definitive treatment involves placing a plastic tube ("chest tube") within the chest cavity, through a small incision near the armpit, under suction and water seal. This chest tube may need to stay in place for a few days before it can be removed.

Simple pneumothorax

  • A simple pneumothorax often is treated in a similar fashion to the tension pneumothorax with a chest tube and admission to the hospital.
  • If the simple pneumothorax is small, and not expanding, the doctor may try various inhalation techniques with 100% oxygen to cause spontaneous re-expansion of the collapsed lung segment.
  • A small catheter can be placed in the chest and the air removed via suction techniques with a syringe and a 3-way stopcock.
  • After multiple collapsed lungs or persistent collapse, chemical or surgical adhesion of the lung to the chest wall (called pleurodesis) may be necessary and is performed by a pulmonary specialist.

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Pneumothorax is defined as the presence of air or gas in the pleural cavity.

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