A pneumothorax is a collapsed lung. Pneumothorax occurs when air leaks into the space between your lungs and chest wall.

This air pushes on the outside of your lung and makes it collapse. In most cases, only a portion of the lung collapses. A pneumothorax can be caused by a blunt or penetrating chest injury, certain medical procedures involving your lungs or damage from underlying lung disease. Sometimes, pneumothorax occurs for no obvious reason. When the lung collapses, it causes sudden chest pain and shortness of breath.

A small, uncomplicated pneumothorax may quickly heal on its own. When the pneumothorax is larger, doctors usually insert a tube or needle between your ribs to remove the excess air.


Signs and symptoms of a pneumothorax usually include:
  • Chest pain:Sudden, sharp chest pain on the same side as the affected lung — this pain doesn’t occur in the center of your chest under the breast bone. And it doesn’t worsen when you breathe in and out.
  • Shortness of breath:This may be mild or severe, depending on how much of your lung is collapsed and whether you have underlying lung disease.


Any blunt or penetrating injury to your chest can cause lung collapse. Some injuries may happen during physical assaults or car crashes, while others may inadvertently occur during certain medical procedures. Examples include:
  • Knife or gunshot wounds, Blunt trauma from a blow or car crash
    Deployment of a vehicle’s air bag, Fractured ribs, which may puncture the lung, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • The insertion of chest tubes, Lung biopsies taken via a needle through the chest wall, Collapsed and normal lung, Collapsed and normal lung,Procedures using a scope down the throat and into the lung