Management of Primary Spontaneous Pneumothorax in Children: A Single Institution Protocol Analysis

J Pediatr Surg. 2023 Aug;58(8):1446-1449. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2022.12.034. Epub 2023 Jan 30.


Background: The Midwest Pediatric Surgery Consortium (MWPSC) suggested a simple aspiration of primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP) protocol, failing which, Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) should be considered. We describe our outcomes using this suggested protocol.

Methods: A single institution retrospective analysis was conducted on patients between 12 and 18 years who were diagnosed with PSP from 2016 to 2021. Initial management involved aspiration alone with a ≤12 F percutaneous thoracostomy tube followed by clamping of the tube and chest radiograph at 6 h. Success was defined as ≤2 cm distance between chest wall and lung at the apex and no air leak when the clamp was released. VATS followed if aspiration failed.

Results: Fifty-nine patients were included. Median age was 16.8 years (IQR 15.9, 17.3). Aspiration was successful in 33% (20), while 66% (39) required VATS. The median LOS with successful aspiration was 20.4 h (IQR 16.8, 34.8), while median LOS after VATS was 3.1 days (IQR 2.6, 4). In comparison, in the MWPSC study, the mean LOS for those managed with a chest tube after failed aspiration was 6.0 days (±5.5). Recurrence after successful aspiration was 45% (n = 9), while recurrence after VATS was 25% (n = 10). Median time to recurrence after successful aspiration was sooner than that of the VATS group [16.6 days (IQR 5.4, 19.2) vs. 389.5 days (IQR 94.1, 907.0) p = 0.01].

Conclusion: Simple aspiration is safe and effective initial management for children with PSP, although most will require VATS. However, early VATS reduces length of stay and morbidity.

Level of evidence: IV. Retrospective study.

Keywords: Pediatric; Spontaneous pneumothorax; Thoracoscopic surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Chest Tubes
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Pneumothorax* / surgery
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted / methods
  • Thoracotomy
  • Treatment Outcome