Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
(603) 742-5252
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+) font size
Site Search


Aortic rupture, chest X-ray
Aortic rupture, chest X-ray

Pneumothorax - chest X-ray
Pneumothorax - chest X-ray

Respiratory system
Respiratory system

Chest tube insertion - series
Chest tube insertion - series

Pneumothorax - series
Pneumothorax - series


Pneumothorax is the collection of air or gas in the space around the lungs.

Alternative Names:

Air around the lung; Air outside the lung

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Pneumothorax may result from chest trauma, excess pressure on the lungs, or a lung disease such as COPD , asthma , cystic fibrosis , tuberculosis , or whooping cough . In some cases, the cause is unclear.

See also:


Note: Symptoms may begin during rest or sleep.

Other symptoms that can occur with this disease:

Signs and tests:

There are decreased or no breath sounds on the affected side when heard through a stethoscope.

Tests include:


Small pneumothoraces may go away on their own.

For larger pneumothoraces, the air must be removed from around the lung. A chest tube placed between the ribs into the space around the lungs helps drain the air and allows the lung to re-expand. The chest tube can be left in place for several days. The person must stay in the hospital while the chest tube is in place.

Some people need extra oxygen to help air around the lung be reabsorbed more quickly. Surgery may be needed to prevent future episodes.

Support Groups:

Expectations (prognosis):

Up to 50% of patients who have a pneumothorax will have another, but there are no long-term complications after successful treatment.

  • Recurrent pneumothorax
  • Tension pneumothorax with shock

Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of pneumothorax, especially if you have had this condition before.


There is no known way to prevent pneumothorax, but you can decrease your risk by not smoking.


Baumann MH, Strange C, Heffner JE, Light R, Kirby TJ, Klein J, et al. Management of spontaneous pneumothorax. Chest. February 2001;199:590-602.

Murray J, Nadel J. Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2000.

Marx J. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2002.

Review Date: 8/10/2007
Reviewed By: Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Veteran Affairs, VA System, East Orange, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Find What You Need

About Us
Social Media Agreement
Joint Notice
Web Privacy Policy
WDH Staff Portal

Centers & Services

Cancer Center
Cardiovascular Care
Joint Replacement
Women & Children's
Physician Offices
Other Services

Conditions & Treatments

Health Information
Ebola Information

Support Services

Support Groups
Dental Center
Social Work
Food & Nutrition
Integrative Wellness
Spiritual Care
Concerns & Grievances
Homecare and Hospice

For Patients

Pay Your Bill Online
Pricing Estimates
Financial Assistance
Interpreter Services
Surgery Preparation
Medical Record Request
Advance Directives
Clinical Research & Trials

For Healthcare Professionals

Work and Life
Financial Well-Being
Career and Growth

The Wentworth-Douglass Health System includes:



Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100