Identification of pneumothorax in very preterm infants

J Pediatr. 2011 Jul;159(1):115-120.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.12.016. Epub 2011 Feb 6.


Objective: To compare respiratory and other morbidities between very preterm infants with and without a pneumothorax and to determine whether infants at higher risk of pneumothorax can be identified early in their course.

Study design: Preterm infants at 23 to 28 weeks' gestation with pneumothorax were compared with matched control subjects. Demographic and clinical data from birth through the first 72 hours were compared.

Results: Sixty-two (9.2%) of 675 infants had pneumothorax. There were no significant differences in the baseline maternal and infant characteristics. Mortality was significantly higher in the pneumothorax group (43%) versus control subjects (13%). There was no significant difference in continuous positive airway pressure or surfactant treatment or rates of intraventricular hemorrhage or bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Infants treated with early continuous positive airway pressure in the delivery room typically had pneumothorax on day 2 of life. Those who had pneumothorax had higher inspired fraction of oxygen before its diagnosis and over the first 12 hours of life than did control subjects.

Conclusions: Pneumothorax is associated with increased mortality and with severity of lung disease in the first day of life. It may be possible to identify babies at highest risk of pneumothorax on the basis of inspired fraction of oxygen in the first 12 hours of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Pneumothorax / diagnosis*
  • Pneumothorax / epidemiology
  • Pneumothorax / therapy*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / therapeutic use
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Transillumination


  • Pulmonary Surfactants