Pneumothorax: experience with 1,199 patients

Chest. 2000 May;117(5):1279-85. doi: 10.1378/chest.117.5.1279.


Objective: To study the outcome of pneumothorax managed in a university-affiliated metropolitan medical center.

Design: A retrospective review.

Setting: Busy metropolitan medical center.

Patients and methods: Records of 1,199 patients with pneumothorax were reviewed and analyzed.

Results: Primary spontaneous pneumothorax occurred in 218 patients, secondary spontaneous pneumothorax occurred in 505, traumatic in 403, and iatrogenic in 73. Ninety-six patients with small pneumothorax (8%) were managed by observation, and 1,103 patients (92%) were managed by tube thoracostomy. Drainage of the pleural cavity was continued for 1 to 7 days in 893 patients (81%), 8 to 10 days in 176 patients (16%), and > 10 days in 34 patients (3%). Drainage for > 10 days was classified as persistent pneumothorax. In these 34 patients and in 132 others with a second ipsilateral recurrence (a total of 166 patients), direct pleuroscopy was performed. The pleuroscopy findings and further management are outlined in the algorithm.

Conclusions: Pneumothorax is a common condition affecting all age groups. If the volume of the pneumothorax is > 20% of the pleural space, pleural drainage is indicated. For management of persistent or recurrent pneumothorax, the use of pleuroscopy (direct or video-assisted) is of great value and should be part of routine management.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Chest Tubes
  • Child
  • Drainage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumothorax / diagnosis
  • Pneumothorax / etiology
  • Pneumothorax / surgery*
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracoscopy
  • Treatment Outcome