A pneumothorax is a collection of air or gas between the outside surface of the lung and the inside surface of the chest wall.
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These two surfaces are lined with a smooth membrane called pleura and normally are in contact with each other, but they can become separated when air, fluid or blood collects between them. There are different types of pneumothorax. Spontaneous pneumothorax happens without a clear cause. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs when there is no known lung disease. Traumatic pneumothorax results from a traumatic injury to the chest. The trauma may be a stab wound, gunshot or (blow from a motor vehicle accident. Tension pneumothorax occurs when excessive pressure builds up around the lung, forcing it to collapse. The excessive pressure can also prevent the heart from pumping blood effectively, leading to shock.

Symptoms  of pneumothorax may include, sudden sharp chest pain, especially made worse by a deep breath or a cough, shortness of breath, chest tightness, fatigue, rapid heart rate, bluish skin color.

A pneumothorax usually does not require emergency treatment unless so much air collects in the chest that the heart and major blood vessels are compressed. Treatment varies according the size, the patient’s symptoms, whether it is a recurrent problem, and whether the hole in the lung or chest wall has sealed itself.

Other sources of information for these topics.

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Pneumothorax
A pneumothorax is collection of air or gas in the pleural space (the space ... There are several types of pneumothorax, which are classified by cause. ...

eMedicine - Pneumothorax, Tension and Traumatic : Article by ...
Pneumothorax, Tension and Traumatic - A pneumothorax refers to a collection of gas in the pleural space resulting in collapse of the lung on the affected ...

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