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Injury Definitions


Pneumothorax is a condition in which air gets between the lungs and the chest wall. Normally, two thin layers of moist tissue (pleura) separate the lungs and chest wall. Any air that leaks through lung tissue into this space (pleural space) will cause the lung tissue to collapse in proportion to the amount of air that enters the pleural cavity. Air can collect in the pleural space for many reasons, including: an injury that damages the chest wall, such as a stab or gunshot wound; a broken rib that punctures the lung; a procedure or surgery that involves the lung or chest wall. There are cases of spontaneous pneumothorax, which is thought to be due to the rupture of an air-filled blister on the surface of the lung. People with underlying lung disease, such as asthma or cystic fibrosis, may be at increased risk of pneumothorax. Pneumothorax is one cause of a collapsed lung, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition.

A doctor can confirm a diagnosis of pneumothorax by a chest X-ray. Occasionally, the air leak seals itself. Depending on the severity, a doctor can remove the air from the pleural space with a tube inserted between the ribs and attached to a suction device. Surgery may be needed when suction isn't effective or for recurrent pneumothorax.

For related information go to: Insurance Bad Faith, Medical Malpractice, Motor Vehicle Accidents and Premises Liability.

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