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Spontaneous Pneumothorax in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is a spontaneous pneumothorax?

A spontaneous pneumothorax is a collapsed lung. Part or all of the lung may collapse. Air collects in the pleural space (the space between the lungs and chest wall). The trapped air prevents your child's lung from filling, and the lung collapses. A primary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs in a person with no known lung problems. A secondary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs in a person who has a known lung disease or medical condition. A spontaneous pneumothorax can happen in one or both lungs.


What increases my child's risk for a spontaneous pneumothorax?

The risk is highest in tall, thin male children and adolescents. Any of the following can also increase your child's risk:

What are the signs and symptoms of a spontaneous pneumothorax?

How is a spontaneous pneumothorax diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about his or her signs and symptoms and examine him or her. The provider will listen to your child's lungs. Your child may also need any of the following:

How is a spontaneous pneumothorax treated?

Treatment will depend on the size of your child's pneumothorax. If the pneumothorax is small, it may get better on its own. The goal of treatment is to remove the air from your child's pleural space. When your child's lung is able to fill with air, he or she will be able to breathe easier. Your child may need any of the following:

What safety precautions may my child need to follow?

A change of pressure could cause another pneumothorax. Follow these and other safety precautions from your child's healthcare provider:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I call my child's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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