What is a collapsed lung?

A pneumothorax, or collapsed lung, is the collection of air in the space around the lungs. It may be caused by chest trauma, rib fracture, certain medical procedures, select lung conditions and, in some cases, there may be no direct cause. Additionally, some activities such as scuba diving, smoking, and high-altitude biking and flying can cause a pneumothorax.
A pneumothorax is where air leaks into the chest wall and the lung collapses because of the change in pressure. The loss of use of that lung may cause pain and difficulty breathing. (This answer provided for NATA by the University of Montana Athletic Training Education Program.)

A collapsed lung is when the lung fails to expand (inflate) completely. This may be caused by a blocked airway, a tumor, general anesthesia, pneumonia or other lung infections, lung disease, or long-term bedrest with shallow breathing. The clinical term is atelectasis.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.



Continue Learning about Pneumothorax (Collapsed Lung)

What increases my risk for hemothorax, a pleural cavity disorder?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Chest trauma increases the risk for hemothorax (bleeding into the pleural cavity). Other possible ri...
More Answers
What are possible complications of pneumothorax?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Complications for pneumothorax vary by type. For secondary (occurring in people who already have lun...
More Answers
What should I expect if my baby has a pneumothorax?
Intermountain Registered DietitiansIntermountain Registered Dietitians
When a baby has trouble breathing, one possible complication is a pneumothorax. A pneumothorax resul...
More Answers
What increases my risk for pneumothorax, a pleural cavity disorder?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Risks for pneumothorax (air in the pleural cavity which often leads to a collapsed lung) are increas...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.