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Collapsed lung, pneumothorax

Collapsed lung, pneumothorax

A collapsed lung, or pneumothorax, occurs when all or part of a lung collapses or caves inward. This occurs when air gets in the area between the lung and chest wall. When this happens the lung cannot fill up with air, breathing becomes hard, and the body gets less oxygen. A collapsed lung can occur spontaneously in a healthy person or in someone who has lungs compromised by trauma, asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema.


Review Date: 7/16/2011
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.


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