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Collapsed lung

  • Alternative Names

    Air around the lung; Air outside the lung; Pneumothorax; Spontaneous pneumothorax


    A small pneumothorax may go away on its own. You may only need oxygen and rest. The health care provider may use a needle to pull the extra air out from around the lung so it can expand more fully. You may be allowed to go home if you live near the hospital.

    If you have a large pneumothorax, a chest tube will be placed between the ribs into the space around the lungs to help drain the air and allows the lung to re-expand.

    The chest tube can be left in place for several days. You must stay in the hospital while the chest tube is in place.

    Some patients with a collapsed lung need extra oxygen, which helps the air around the lung be reabsorbed more quickly.

    Lung surgery may be needed to treat your pneumothorax or to prevent future episodes. The area where the leak occurred may be repaired. Sometimes, a special chemical is placed into the area of the collapsed lung. This chemical causes a scar to form.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    If you have a collapsed lung, you are more likely to have another one in the future if you:

    • Are tall and thin
    • Continue to smoke
    • Have had two collapsed lungs in the past

    How well a person does after having a collapsed lung depends on what caused it.

    • Another collapsed lung in the future
    • Shock

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of a collapsed lung, especially if you have had one before.