BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuPneumothorax - infantsPulmonary air leak; Pneumothorax - neonatalPneumothorax is the collection of air or gas in the space inside the chest around the lungs. This leads to lung collapse.PneumothoraxA collapsed lung occurs when air escapes from the lung. The air then fills the space outside of the lung between the lung and chest wall. This buil...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article This article discusses pneumothorax in infants. Causes A pneumothorax occurs when some of the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in a baby's lung become overinflated and burst. This causes air to leak into the space between the lung and chest wall (pleural space).The most common cause of pneumothorax is respiratory distress syndrome. This is a condition that occurs in babies who are born too early (premature).Respiratory distress syndromeNeonatal respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is a problem often seen in premature babies. The condition makes it hard for the baby to breathe....Read Article Now Book Mark Article The baby's lungs lack the slippery substance (surfactant) that helps them stay open (inflated). Therefore, the tiny air sacs are not able to expand as easily. If the baby needs a breathing machine (mechanical ventilator), extra pressure on the baby's lungs, from the machine can sometimes burst the air sacs. Meconium aspiration syndrome is another cause of pneumothorax in newborns. Meconium aspiration syndromeMeconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) refers to breathing problems that a newborn baby may have when: There are no other causes, andThe baby has passed ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Before or during birth, the baby may breathe in the first bowel movement, called meconium. This may obstruct the airways and cause breathing problems.Other causes include pneumonia (infection of the lung) or underdeveloped lung tissue.Less commonly, otherwise healthy infants can develop an air leak when they take the first few breaths after birth. This occurs because of the pressure needed to expand the lungs for the first time. There may be genetic factors which contribute to this problem. Symptoms Many infants with pneumothorax do not have symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can include:Bluish skin color (cyanosis) CyanosisA bluish color to the skin or mucous membrane is usually due to a lack of oxygen in the blood. The medical term is cyanosis.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Fast breathing Fast breathingA normal breathing rate for an adult at rest is 8 to 16 breaths per minute. For an infant, a normal rate is up to 44 breaths per minute. Tachypnea i...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Flaring of the nostrils Grunting with breathing Irritability Restlessness Use of additional chest and abdominal muscles to aid breathing (retractions) Exams and Tests The health care provider may have difficulty hearing breath sounds when listening to the infant's lungs with a stethoscope. The heart or lung sounds may seem as if they are coming from a different part of the chest than is normal.Tests for pneumothorax include:Chest x-ray Chest x-rayA chest x-ray is an x-ray of the chest, lungs, heart, large arteries, ribs, and diaphragm.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Light probe placed against the baby's chest, also known as "transillumination" (pockets of air will show up as lighter areas) Treatment Babies without symptoms may not need treatment. The health care team will monitor your baby's breathing, heart rate, oxygen level, and skin color. Supplemental oxygen will be provided if needed.If your baby is having symptoms, the provider will place a needle and/or a thin tube called a catheter into the baby's chest to remove the air that has leaked into the chest space.Since treatment will also depend on the lung issues that led to the pneumothorax, it may last for days to weeks. Outlook (Prognosis) Some air leaks will go away within a few days without treatment. Infants who have the air removed with a needle or catheter often do well after treatment if there are no other lung problems. Possible Complications As air builds up in the chest, it can push the heart toward the other side of the chest. This puts pressure on both the lung that hasn't collapsed and the heart. This condition is called tension pneumothorax. It is a medical emergency because it can affect heart and lung function. When to Contact a Medical Professional A pneumothorax is often discovered shortly after birth. Contact your provider if your infant has symptoms of pneumothorax. Prevention The providers in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) should watch your infant carefully for signs of an air leak.Open ReferencesReferencesCrowley MA. Neonatal respiratory disorders. In: Martin RJ, Fanaroff AA, Walsh MC, eds. Fanaroff and Martin's Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 66.Hallifax R, Rahman NM. Pneumothorax. In: Broaddus VC, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 110.Winnie GB, Haider SK, Vemana AP, Lossef SV. Pneumothorax. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 439.AllVideoImagesTogPneumothorax - illustration The pleura is a thin membrane that surrounds the lungs. The space between the pleura and the lungs is usually very thin. Pneumothorax is the collection of air or gas in this space around the lungs, which leads to a lung collapse.PneumothoraxillustrationPneumothorax - illustration The pleura is a thin membrane that surrounds the lungs. The space between the pleura and the lungs is usually very thin. Pneumothorax is the collection of air or gas in this space around the lungs, which leads to a lung collapse.PneumothoraxillustrationA Closer Look Pneumonia(In-Depth)Tuberculosis(Alt. Medicine)Related Information Review Date: 11/9/2021 Reviewed By: Kimberly G. Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.