Traumatic injury can result in pneumothorax if certain risk factors are present.


Risk factors for pneumothorax in a trauma patient:

(1) penetrating thoracic injury (may be associated with hemothorax)

(2) rib fracture

(3) blast injury or other barotrauma

(4) fall from height into water or other deceleration injury

(5) tear in the tracheobronchial tree (may be associated with hemoptysis or persistent air leak)

(6) tear in the eosphagus (associated with a pleural effusion)

(7) rupture of an emphysematous bleb in the lung


For penetrating injuries to the chest wall, an opening larger than the diameter of the trachea will allow air to move in more freely during inspiration (page 1442).


Additional causes of pneumothorax that may occur in the hospital:

(1) iatrogenic during procedures

(2) following mechanical ventilation


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