• Treatment

    The goal of treatment is to get the patient stable, stop the bleeding, and remove the blood and air in the pleural space. A chest tube is inserted through the chest wall to drain the blood and air. It is left in place for several days to re-expand the lung.

    When a hemothorax is severe and a chest tube alone does not control the bleeding, surgery (thoracotomy) may be needed to stop the bleeding.

    The cause of the hemothorax should be also treated. In people who have had an injury, chest tube drainage is often all that is needed. Surgery is often not needed.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outcome depends on the cause of the hemothorax and how quickly treatment is given.

    • Collapsed lung, leading to respiratory failure
    • Death
    • Empyema
    • Fibrosis or scarring of the pleural membranes
    • Pneumothorax
    • Shock

    Calling your health care provider

    Call 911 if you have:

    • Any serious injury to the chest
    • Chest pain or shortness of breath

    Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have:

    • Dizziness, fever, or a feeling of heaviness in your chest
    • Severe chest pain
    • Severe difficulty breathing