Primary spontaneous pneumothorax in children

J Pediatr Surg. 1994 Sep;29(9):1183-5. doi: 10.1016/0022-3468(94)90795-1.


In the absence of pediatric data, spontaneous pneumothorax is managed according to adult guidelines. Fifty-eight patients with primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP) were treated in our center over the last 20 years. The median age was 16.7 years, and the male:female ratio was 1.9:1. A total of 102 PSP were treated; 63% were left-sided. The risk of recurrence was 51% after one PSP and 56% after two. There were four metachronous bilateral PSP. Nonoperative management included tube drainage in 57% of the cases (mean extent of PSP, 53%). Forty percent of patients were treated by supplemental oxygen and observation, without drainage (mean extent of PSP, 23%). Eleven patients were treated as outpatients, with Heimlich valves (mean extent of PSP, 64%). Fourteen patients (28%) underwent bullectomy, with or without pleurodesis. Thirteen of the surgically treated patient had experienced at least two episodes of PSP. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax in children has male predominance. The risk of recurrence after one episode is greater than that for adults. Operative management by bullectomy, with or without pleurodesis, carries little morbidity, has a high success rate, and is recommended after the first recurrence. It is safe to manage younger children conservatively because the chance of recurrence is lower; thoracotomy was not necessary in children under 9 years of age.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pneumothorax / etiology
  • Pneumothorax / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / surgery
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies