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Symptoms and Signs of Collapsed Lung (Pneumothorax) Symptoms, Causes, Types, Treatments, Surgery, and Outcome

Doctor's Notes on Collapsed Lung (Pneumothorax) Symptoms, Causes, Types, Treatments, Surgery, and Outcome

A pneumothorax refers to the collection of air in the chest cavity surrounding the lung that causes the lung to collapse. A pneumothorax may occur on its own (known as a spontaneous pneumothorax) in the absence of underlying disease. It may also occur as a result of trauma or injury or due to the presence of an underlying lung disease. If the lung continues to leak air into the chest cavity and results in compression of the chest structures, this is referred to as a tension pneumothorax and must be treated immediately because it may compress the vessels that return blood to the heart.

Signs and symptoms of pneumothorax include sudden onset of a sharp chest pain that may cause a feeling of tightness in the chest. Associated signs and symptoms can include shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, fatigue, and cough. If the lungs are not able to provide enough oxygen to the bloodstream, a bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis) may be present.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.