Large pneumothorax in blunt chest trauma: Is a chest drain always necessary in stable patients? A case report

Baig M. Idris, Ashraf F. Hefny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Pneumothorax is the most common potentially life-threatening blunt chest injury. The management of pneumothorax depends upon the etiology, its size and hemodynamic stability of the patient. Most clinicians agree that chest drainage is essential for the management of traumatic large pneumothorax. Herein, we present a case of large pneumothorax in blunt chest trauma patient that resolved spontaneously without a chest drain. Presentation of case A 63- year- old man presented to the Emergency Department complaining of left lateral chest pain due to a fall on his chest at home. On examination, he was hemodynamically stable. An urgent chest X-ray showed evidence of left sided pneumothorax. CT scan of the chest showed pneumothorax of more than 30% of the left hemithorax (around 600 ml of air) with multiple left ribs fracture. Patient refused tube thoracostomy and was admitted to surgical department for close observation. The patient was managed conservatively without chest tube insertion. A repeat CT scan of the chest has shown complete resolution of the pneumothorax. Discussion The clinical spectrum of pneumothorax varies from asymptomatic to life threatening tension pneumothorax. In stable patients, conservative management can be safe and effective for small pneumothorax. To the best of our knowledge, this is the second reported case in the English literature with large pneumothorax which resolved spontaneously without chest drain. Conclusion Blunt traumatic large pneumothorax in a clinically stable patient can be managed conservatively. Current recommendations for tube placement may need to be reevaluated. This may reduce morbidity associated with chest tube thoracostomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-90
Number of pages3
JournalInternational Journal of Surgery Case Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Case report
  • Pneumothorax
  • Thoracostomy
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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