A case report of secondary spontaneous pneumothorax in acute exacerbation of COPD managed with improvised chest tube drain

Ann Med Surg (Lond). 2022 Jun 25:79:104064. doi: 10.1016/j.amsu.2022.104064. eCollection 2022 Jul.


Introduction: and importance: We reported a case of secondary spontaneous pneumothorax (SSP) in a 70-years-old male with acute exacerbation of COPD (AE COPD) managed with improvised chest tube drain (ICD).

Case presentation: He presented with sudden onset breathlessness and oxygen saturation of 78%. With prolonged expiration on auscultation, he was treated as AE COPD with oxygen therapy, nebulization with albuterol/ipratropium, and injectable antibiotics and steroids. The patient was not improving with treatment on third day, and non-critical respiratory distress continued. Considering the alternative diagnosis, the chest X-ray was done which revealed right sided spontaneous pneumothorax and COPD. Due to his reluctancy to go to higher center for chest tube insertion during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we inserted ICD (intravenous set put in saline bottle) at our primary care. Following drainage, breathlessness improved and saturation increased. Then inpatient symptomatic treatment for COPD was continued for three more days. He was discharged on inhalers after fifth day and asked for follow up after 10 days. He came after 1 month and on repeat chest X-ray, his right sided pneumothorax resolved completely and COPD was in control with inhaled medications. There was no recurrence of pneumothorax in five months follow up.

Clinical discussion: ICD is a safe, and an alternative option in resource limited setting. However, the guidelines recommend chest tube insertion as appropriate treatment.

Conclusion: This would remind the physicians to anticipate the alternative possibility, and to re-examine those with AE COPD who are not improving as expected with oxygen and nebulization therapy.

Keywords: COPD; Case report; Improvised chest drain; Secondary spontaneous pneumothorax.

Publication types

  • Case Reports