A lung disease that causes a dangerous structural alteration and impairment of function is referred to as pneumothorax, which refers to a lung that has collapsed. A lung can collapse due to several different mechanisms. At some point, an opportunity is provided for air to enter the space in between an individual's chest wall and lung. The air in this space creates pressure placed directly on the individual's lung, causing it to collapse. This process usually occurs as a result of a blunt chest injury, damage from underlying lung disease, and certain medical procedures. Symptoms that occur upon the collapse of a lung include shortness of breath and sudden chest pain. An individual who has had a pneumothorax before is more likely to experience another within two years following the first.
Diagnosis of pneumothorax is typically made through the use of computerized tomography scans, ultrasound imaging, and chest x-rays. Treatment focuses on releasing the pressure inside of the patient's chest cavity to allow the lung to re-inflate properly. A needle aspiration, chest tube insertion, surgery, or nonsurgical repair may be used to accomplish this goal.