Placing a chest tube to restore a collapsed lung

A pneumothorax (sometimes called a collapsed lung) occurs when air in the chest cavity puts added pressure on a lung, compressing the lung and preventing normal inflation.

A pneumothorax can occur spontaneously or as a result of trauma/injury.

Catching and treating a pneumothorax is time-sensitive, as it can be life threatening if not addressed.

Often times, an interventional radiologist will be called to quickly relieve a pneumothorax with a minimally invasive image-guided procedure called a chest tube placement.

To place a chest tube, an interventional radiologist will use real-time imaging to look for a safe entry into the pocket of air in the chest cavity.

The patient’s skin is then numbed and a small tube is inserted into the cavity through the skin.

The air in the chest cavity can then escape, and the lung can re-expand and resume proper function.

Often, the chest tube will need to remain in place for several days to be sure the pneumothorax does not simply return upon removal.


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Additional Online Resources:
The Interventional Initiative
Society of Interventional Radiology
Radiology Info for Patients

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