The prevalence of blebs or bullae among young healthy adults: a thoracoscopic investigation

Chest. 2007 Oct;132(4):1140-5. doi: 10.1378/chest.07-0029. Epub 2007 Sep 21.


Background: To determine the prevalence of blebs or bullae using thoracoscopy in young healthy adults, and to compare patient characteristics among those with and without blebs.

Methods: Bilateral thoracoscopic evaluation of the lungs was performed in healthy individuals who were referred for thoracoscopic thoracic sympathectomy for essential hyperhidrosis. Participants were enrolled into a registry and followed for up to 9 years.

Results: Analysis was performed on 250 consecutive cases. Blebs were observed in 15 of 250 individuals (6%; male, n = 6; female, n = 9; mean age, 25.3 years; range, 15 to 51 years). Individuals with blebs had a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) [mean +/- SD, 20.7 +/- 2.4 kg/m(2) vs 22.7 +/- 3.4 kg/m(2); p = 0.027] when compared to individuals without blebs, whereas all other parameters were similar. Blebs were most prevalent among slim individuals (BMI < 22 kg/m(2)) who smoked (odds ratio, 5.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.19 to 29.20).

Conclusion: Blebs were identified thoracoscopically in 6% of young healthy adults with no underlying lung disease. Low BMI in combination with smoking may have an important role in the development of pleural blebs in healthy young adults; however, these changes may not be responsible for future spontaneous pneumothoraces.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blister / epidemiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Thoracoscopy*