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
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
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