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Punctured lung: symptoms, treatment and consequences

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The lungs are vital organs whose function is to help us breathe. They provide oxygen to the blood, are essential for life, and expel carbon dioxide. Membranes line them called the pleurae, connected to the thorax called the parietal pleura, and the visceral pleura, which directly surrounds the lungs. When there has been some damage, trauma, or accident, this membrane can break, although it can also happen unexpectedly. This creates an opening or perforation causing too much air and causing the lungs to collapse. A broken rib, for example, can lead to perforation of the pleura and damage to the lungs. This increased air is known as a pneumothorax. In this FastlyHealarticle we explain everything about the punctured lung: symptoms, treatment, and consequences.

Causes of pneumothorax

A perforation in the lungs gives rise to a pneumothorax since inevitably, for there to be pulmonary perforation, there must be a rupture of the pleura and, consequently, too much air that comes out into the chest. The perforated lung is synonymous with the collapse of the lung, a consequence of pneumothorax; that is why it refers to this name to speak of the perforated lung.

Depending on the causes, the pneumothorax can be spontaneous, secondary (derived from some disease), or traumatic (caused by some damage or trauma). However, a perforated lung is more often associated with traumatic pneumothorax:

  • Spontaneous pneumothorax – It appears suddenly for no apparent reason. It usually occurs when the person is at rest. It is generally expected in younger men who smoke or tall and thin people. It is related to smoking and activities such as diving or mountaineering. Pressure changes such as traveling by plane or even gaining weight could also trigger a pneumothorax.
  • Secondary pneumothorax: it occurs in patients who have a lung disease such as emphysema, tuberculosiscystic fibrosis, pneumonia, or lung cancer. Also, those patients with artificial respiration are at risk of suffering it.
  • Traumatic pneumothorax: is the one that occurs after suffering a trauma resulting from an accident that damages the chest area. A high-impact injury to the site can cause this ailment, for example, car accidents, stab wounds, or broken ribs.

Symptoms of a punctured lung

Symptoms of a perforated lung will depend on the amount of air entering the lungs, the severity of the perforation, and whether an underlying disorder is causing it.

In most cases, the main symptom of a collapsed lung is usually shortness of breath and pain in the chest or chest area. The pain is typically sudden and quite severe and usually occurs on the side of the damaged lung. This pain and shortness of breath lead the patient to a state of anxiety that he tries to breathe more and the breathing becomes accelerated.

Some other symptoms, although they occur in fewer patients, maybe:

Very few people have no symptoms during a punctured lung. This is the case with milder pneumothorax than in those with only a small air leak. This may be asymptomatic or have pain when breathing.


When the pneumothorax is not very large, and the patient is clinically stable, the treatment is usually only the monitoring of the patient to control that it does not go further. But in this case, there is no treatment as such. Instead, it is expected that the pneumothorax subsides on its own. Sometimes oxygen may be required.

However, when it is more serious, the treatment for introducing a tube through the chest so that the air is sucked in and the lung can expand. This tube will remain in the patient until the pleura has healed. They usually take several days.

When the pneumothorax is recurrent, or there is a too large perforation, surgery can be used since the lung tissue will not be able to close immediately and will not repair itself. Surgeons will repair the lung tissue through tubes placed in the throat that go into the bronchial tubes. If it does not work, an incision is made in the skin. A line that sucks in the air or any fluid or blood that may have remained in the pleural space will also be required.

Consequences of a punctured lung

If the pneumothorax has been sudden or due to some disease, the lung tissue will regenerate within a few months, and the chances of a new perforation in the same area suddenly are meager. However, when it has been caused by some trauma, such as a broken rib, for example, the tissue is damaged, and even if it heals, there are certain aspects to take into account. For example, a person who has suffered a lung perforation accident should undergo a medical examination before diving since pulmonary barotrauma could occur, damage caused by respiration and inspiration in the ascent during diving. Being underwater creates a lot of pressure, and this also builds upon the lungs, which can cause internal injuries. In the same way, all those activities that involve some pulmonary pressure will be discouraged.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Perforated lung: symptoms, treatment and consequences, we recommend that you enter our Lung and respiratory tract category .

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