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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Miscellaneous Chest Diseases

Question: Spontaneous NumoThoraces (Numothorax)

 curtisw - Wed May 18, 2005 5:13 pm


My wife has just suffered her third spontaneous numothorax (referred to as SN from here on to save my fingers) today. Her first was the left lung over five years ago. Her second, on the 29th April 2005 whilst we were on holiday in the Cayman Islands. We saw a Canadian thorasic specialist there who cleared us to fly home the day after the lung had re-inflated.

We are confused and alittle concerned by the different and sometimes contradictory information provided regarding her condition. Apparently SNs are normally suffered by tall skinny men. My wife is 5'2", slim and generally healthy, so all seem at a loss to explain. Hereditory possibilities have been alluded to, but in truth, we don't know.

The Canadian specialist told us he could see 'boules'? or bubbles in her lung and that these ruptured causing the collapse. In the UK we have yet to be given this degree of information, but have always been told not to risk flying for a minimum of 6 weeks after an SN. Given that we flew home (three pressurised flights in 30 hrs) the day after 100% inflation was confirmed, could this have contributed to the collapse today?

The only course of treatment we have been informed as the condition appears to be persistent is to either use talcum powder or similar to irritate the lungs surface so that it heals (bonding to the chest wall) - OR - to 'staple' the affected area of the lung, removing any affected tissue.

Given the inconsistencies in details and advice thus far, we are wary of agreeing to this invasive surgery. I have searched the web, finding very little information relating to SPONTANEOUS numothoraces. What should we do?
 Theresa Jones, RN - Thu May 19, 2005 9:21 am

User avatar Hi curtisw,
A spontaneous pneumothorax does most often affect tall, thin men but that isn't to say that others aren't affected as well, just that the prevalence isn't as high. A spontaneous pneumothorax may occur in otherwise healthy people and are cause by tiny air filled sacs called "blebs" that rupure. For recurrent episodes surgery may be required. Here are a couple of weblinks for some information if you would care to view them.
pneumothorax-symptoms.html" class="postlink">Link 1
Link 2
 curtisw - Thu May 19, 2005 3:41 pm


Thank you fr the reply. We are seeing a specialist tomorrowand will no doubt discuss the prospect of a thorascopy etc. I'll post a follow up once we know more.

 babygurl8_125 - Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:03 pm

Hello, i just so happend to want to browse the web to learn more about SN. but i must say 1st off, i had it this past Sept.
I am only 16, and i am a slim/slinder female, and im 5"4.
long story short, for 3 days i experienced tormenting chest pains, and even if i would walk from one room to another, my heart would beat like i just ran a mile. i cried, and on the 4th day, i went to the doctors, they took x-rays and discoverd my left lung was being affected. so they sent me to Childrens Hospital rite away. They explained what happend. HOWEVER I WAS SO CONFUSED AND SCARED.
They kept me on the oxygen mask for 3days as i was in the hospital to let it heal on its own. or they would perform the surgery of them imputting the tube on my side.
I am still very weary about my lungs, and Im still confused of how this happend and why. i just would like to say, i feel and know what your wife is dealing with, because im only a teenager and i experienced it. and i know/as well as the doctors i have verygood health, so this was a complete shock to me and my family. but i hope all goes well, and she gets better.


 curtisw - Sat Dec 09, 2006 6:07 pm

Hi Maya,

My husband just showed me your email. It's surprising that you never hear of this, until it happens to you. Since mine, I think on just about every hospital documentary, someone was admitted with a collapsed lung. I think it is much more common than you realise. I was referred to a lung specialist hospital and admitted for surgery. I was advised that they allowed this to happen twice, but a third pneumothorax was not acceptable and surgery was recommended. I had key-hole surgery through front lower chest, side and back and they cut away part of my lung and stapled my lung to chest wall. I returned home Friday following the operation on the Tuesday. I was very sore for about 10 weeks after but had very effective pain-killers. At my follow up I was advised that my lung would never be able to 'de-flate' again, however around 2% of people can still suffer a hole forming, but as the lung is now attached to my chest, it cannot collapse. I think I had a few panic attacks after when I thought it had collapsed again, but looking back, I think it was just fear of it happening again. My only regret is that I didn't have surgery on my left lung (which collapsed 5 years previously). My surgeon said that had my hospital informed him of this, he would have corrected both lungs. I am now very wary of flying and have not done so since the surgery. However the day will come no doubt. If it is any consolation, I was told that if 6 months pass after a collapse, the chance of it happening again is greatly reduced and touch wood, my left lung has remained 'intact' ever since. As yours was in September, I should be very hopeful that this was a one-off and all you can do is carry on as normal and try not to think about it.

Best wishes and I hope you enjoy continued good health.

 SiloG - Mon Jan 19, 2009 7:07 pm

Hi there, I’m 17 years old and just suffered from a spontaneous pneumothorax last Monday had a chest drain put in and was out by the Wednesday, even though I’m sure I wouldn't have been sent out without being at least 95% healthy. I am experiencing some odd pains and discomforts I do feel a bubble or what I would describe as one in my right side of the chest (my right lung was the collapsed one). I'm also experiencing a sharp throbbing pain in my chest which occurs on both sides random times throughout the day. Although I should also mention I quit smoking on the Monday I found out what was wrong with me & I have Irritable bowl syndrome which used to cause referred pain into my chest with high acid (or something) & I was given tablets to counteract that which have worked.
Any help into if what I’m feeling is normal would be a nice help
Thanks Ewan

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