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Pneumothorax - series—Incision



Pneumothorax can be life-threatening. The immediate treatment for pneumothorax is tube thoracostomy, or the insertion of a chest tube. A long, flexible, hollow, narrow tube is inserted through the ribs into the pleural splace, and the tube is attached to a suction device. This allows the air to be evacuated from the pleural space, and allows the lung to re-expand. Chest tubes are generally inserted using local anesthesia. The chest tube is left in place until the lung leak seals on its own; this usually occurs within two to five days.

Review Date 4/13/2015

Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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