What are the physical findings specific to each type of pneumothorax?

Updated: Apr 28, 2020
  • Author: Brian J Daley, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCP, CNSC; Chief Editor: Mary C Mancini, MD, PhD, MMM  more...
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Answer

Common findings among the types of pneumothoraces include the following:

  • Spontaneous and iatrogenic pneumothorax: Tachycardia most common finding; tachypnea and hypoxia may be present
  • Tension pneumothorax: Variable findings; respiratory distress and chest pain; tachycardia; ipsilateral air entry on auscultation; breath sounds absent on affected hemithorax; trachea may deviate from affected side; thorax may be hyperresonant; jugular venous distention and/or abdominal distention may be present
  • Pneumomediastinum: Variable or absent findings; subcutaneous emphysema is the most consistent sign; Hamman sign—a precordial crunching noise synchronous with the heartbeat and often accentuated during expiration—has a variable rate of occurrence, with one series reporting 10%

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