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.