What is primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP)?

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

Spontaneous pneumothorax is a commonly encountered problem with approaches to treatment that vary from observation to aggressive intervention. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP) occurs in people without underlying lung disease and in the absence of an inciting event (see the images below). [2] In other words, air enters into the intrapleural space without preceding trauma and without an underlying history of clinical lung disease. However, many patients whose condition is labeled as primary spontaneous pneumothorax have subclinical lung disease, such as pleural blebs, that can be detected by CT scanning. Patients are typically aged 18-40 years, tall, thin, and, often, are smokers.

Radiograph of a patient with a small spontaneous p Radiograph of a patient with a small spontaneous primary pneumothorax
Close radiographic view of patient with a small sp Close radiographic view of patient with a small spontaneous primary pneumothorax (same patient as from the previous image).
Expiratory radiograph of a patient with a small sp Expiratory radiograph of a patient with a small spontaneous primary pneumothorax (same patient as in the previous images).

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