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Pneumothorax Treatments


While a small pneumothorax will usually resolve itself without intervention in a week or two, a larger pneumothorax often requires treatment. Oxygen is commonly administered.

Treatment focuses on removing the air from the pleural space so the lung can again expand to its full capacity. This can be accomplished by inserting a needle and syringe or inserting a chest tube.

Chest Tube Insertion

  • In this procedure, the doctor will insert a small tube between the ribs into the pleural cavity where the pneumothorax is located. Before the procedure, you may receive sedation, your doctor will then numb the area where the tube is to be inserted using local anesthesia. Next, he or she will make an incision, insert the tube, and connect it to a bottle or canister that contains sterile liquid. A suction mechanism is also attached to encourage drainage. The tube is held in place by a suture or a piece of surgical tape.
  • The chest tube will remain in place until x-rays show that the air or gas has drained from the pleural space and the lung is once again fully expanded. This can take several days. No further medication is necessary, although sometimes antibiotics are prescribed to ward off possible infection from the tube.

Surgery to remove blebs or attach the lung permanently to the chest wall is sometimes needed to prevent recurrences.

Up to 50% of patients who experience pneumothorax have a recurrence, but there are no long-term consequences following treatment.

If you are diagnosed with pneumothorax, follow your doctor's instructions.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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