Objective: To define risk factors and optimum therapy for AIDS-related spontaneous pneumothorax (PTX).
Design: Case-control study.
Setting: Tertiary care center.
Patients: Thirty-five patients with AIDS who developed spontaneous PTX between January 1, 1988 and December 31, 1991, of whom 27 (77.1%) did so in the setting of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). Forty-one patients who were diagnosed as having PCP and did not develop PTX served as the control group.
Results: Using logistic regression, a history of cigarette smoking, aerosolized pentamidine treatment, and the observation of pneumatoceles by chest radiography were associated with an increased risk of PTX. Although not associated with an increased risk of occurrence of PTX, the use of systemic corticosteroids for PCP treatment was associated with a longer requirement for chest tube drainage. Although chest tube drainage alone was often successful, chemical and surgical pleurodesis was often effective in treating prolonged air leaks and was associated with a lower incidence of recurrent PTX, although this difference did not achieve statistical significance (p = 0.07).
Conclusions: Patients at high risk of developing AIDS-related spontaneous PTX can be identified. Systemic corticosteroids may increase the risk of morbidity from AIDS-related PTX. Chemical and surgical pleurodesis may be of value in short-term treatment and in reducing the risk of recurrence.