12-year experience of spontaneous hemopneumothorax

Ann Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2008 Jun;14(3):149-53.


Objectives: Spontaneous hemopneumothorax is a rare clinical disorder that results from a torn small vessel located in adhesions between the visceral and parietal pleurae resulting from the progress of lung collapse. A large spontaneous hemopneumothorax is often life threatening, so the late recognition and delayed intervention can increase mortality rate.

Patients and methods: From March 1994 to February 2006, a total of 983 patients were treated with spontaneous pneumothorax. Seventeen (1.7%) developed spontaneous hemopneumothorax. We analyzed many factors such as sex and age distribution, affected site, clinical symptoms, bleeding volume, causes, treatments, complications, and others.

Results: All 17 patients were males between the ages of 16 and 33 with the average being 19.5 years, except for 1 patient who was 60 years old. In all patients, it was the first occurrence of pneumothorax. Thirteen patients had a history of smoking (76.5%, average 8.6 pack-years). The amount of bleeding ranged from 450 to 2,900 mL (average 1,308.8 mL). Eight patients were given a homologous blood transfusion. In all patients, the cause of hemopneumothorax was a torn pleural adhesion band. All patients were treated with the closed thoracostomy; five were treated with only the closed thoracostomy, and the other 12 were treated by the thoracostomy combined with video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) or thoracotomy. One patient, who had had a thoracotomy, needed an exploratory thoracotomy because of a trapped lung after 1 week.

Conclusions: We are reporting 17 patients with spontaneous hemopneumothorax to emphasize the following: (i) the mechanism of spontaneous hemopneumothorax, which was caused by a torn pleural adhesion band resulting from the lung collapse. The collapse was developed mainly by an air leak from ruptured bullae, and rarely by additional pressure from the outside during a drainage procedure. (ii) The importance of early recognition and prompt surgical intervention by VATS or thoracotomy. We preferred VATS to thoracotomy because it is easier to access the bleeding point near the Sibson's fascia by VATS, and it can reduce the loss of blood by relatively shorter operating time.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Hemopneumothorax* / diagnostic imaging
  • Hemopneumothorax* / etiology
  • Hemopneumothorax* / surgery
  • Hemopneumothorax* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted
  • Thoracostomy
  • Thoracotomy
  • Treatment Outcome