Alternative Names: Pneumothorax, Air around the lung; Air outside the lung.
A collapsed lung occurs when air escapes from a lung and fills the space surrounding the lungs, increasing the pressure on the lung(s) and making it difficult for them to expand.
Collapsed lungs may occur for various reasons, including chest wounds, broken ribs, or during a medical procedure. Sometimes there is no identifiable cause.
Risk factors for pneumothorax include being tall and thin, whooping cough, and having had at least one collapsed lung in the past.
The diagnostic procedure normally involves checking to see if breathing can be heard with a stethoscope on the affected side, checking for low blood pressure, measuring arterial blood gas content, and a chest X-ray.
A minor pneumothorax may go away by itself with only bed rest and oxygen if necessary. More serious cases require extraction of the air from around the lung(s), using a chest tube that is inserted between the ribs. Lung surgery may be required to repair the damage and/or prevent future recurrence.
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