Pneumothorax is a condition in which air collects in the space between the lungs and the chest wall. This air pocket puts pressure on the lung and can collapse a portion of the lung.


The chest cavity is normally a sealed chamber. Air can leak into the chamber through damaged lung tissue, chest wall, or the diaphragm (a muscle that separates the abdominal and chest cavity). The air can eventually become large enough to collapse a section of lung. Pneumothorax may be named according to its cause or how it acts, for example:
  • Primary spontaneous pneumothorax—No known cause, but genetics may play a role.
  • Secondary spontaneous pneumothorax—Caused by air leaks from damaged lung tissue. Tissue is often weakened from lung disease, injury, or mechanical ventilation.
  • Tension pneumothorax—Caused by trauma to the lungs and/or chest cavity (ribs and muscles). This is the most serious type because the collapse is more rapid and involves a larger amount of lung. It may affect the heart's ability to pump blood.
  • Catamenial pneumothorax (women only)—caused by small holes in the diaphragm muscle. Occurs within 72 hours of start or end of menstrual cycle and most often associated with endometriosis.
Rib Fractures With Pneumothorax
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Primary spontaneous pneumothorax is more common in tall, thin young men, generally from teenagers up to the age of 30. Other factors that may increase your chance of primary spontaneous pneumothorax include smoking or having a genetic abnormality.Weakened lung tissue increases your risk of secondary spontaneous pneumothorax. Conditions that can cause weak lung tissue include:Factors that may increase your chance of tension pneumothorax include:
  • Penetrating or blunt force trauma to the chest
  • Having a medical or surgical procedure
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Smoking

leave comments
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics:
Current Research From Top Journals

Water Before Meals May Promote Weight Loss
August 2015

A randomized trial found that drinking water before main meals led to higher weight loss than those who were asked to imagine a full stomach before main meals. Water preloading is believed to help create a feeling of fullness or satiety during the meal, which may help curb overeating.

dot separator
previous editions

Fecal Transplants Induce Ulcerative Colitis Remission
July 2015

Exercise Associated with Healthy Baby Weight
June 2015

Mindful Meditation May Reduce Symptoms and Complications of Insomnia
May 2015

dashed separator


Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »