Catamenial pneumothorax

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2010 Jul;16(4):381-6. doi: 10.1097/MCP.0b013e32833a9fc2.


Purpose of review: Although known for several decades, catamenial pneumothorax has been considered until recently as an extremely rare entity. The condition is now more easily recognized and several studies have been published, with somewhat relevant discrepancies with respect to etiologic, epidemiologic, and management features. In the present review, I will provide a synthesis of available knowledge on the subject.

Recent findings: Catamenial pneumothorax accounts for approximately one third of cases of spontaneous pneumothoraces in women referred for surgery. At video-assisted thoracic surgery, diaphragmatic defects and nodules are the most frequent findings. Pathology shows endometriosis in most instances. Endometrial implants in visceral pleura are also found, although less frequently. Findings of surgical explorations support the theory of transabdominal-transdiaphragmatic passage of air to explain the pathogenesis of catamenial pneumothorax.

Summary: Management of patients with catamenial pneumothorax implies surgery, if possible by video-assisted technology, to obtain samples for pathologic confirmation of endometriosis and to treat the main pathogenic mechanisms of pneumothorax. Partial diaphragmatic resection and/or exeresis of visceral pleural implants, as well as talc pleurodesis, are nowadays frequently carried out. Medical therapy to achieve ovarian rest is mandatory in the postoperative period, the multimodality management being the key to treatment success in this condition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diaphragm / pathology
  • Diaphragm / surgery
  • Endometriosis / complications*
  • Endometriosis / pathology
  • Endometriosis / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pleura / pathology
  • Pleura / surgery
  • Pleurodesis
  • Pneumothorax / etiology*
  • Pneumothorax / pathology
  • Pneumothorax / surgery*
  • Risk Factors
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted