The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic remains a relatively recent phenomenon with various long-term sequelae still being identified. In susceptible individuals, infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can trigger a profound inflammatory state resulting in a rapidly progressing pneumonitis and ground glass opacification on chest x-ray. COVID-19 pneumonitis is treated with oxygen and corticosteroids in addition to other forms of pharmacological therapy.
This patient was admitted at a time when daily case numbers for COVID-19 exceeded 40,000 and daily deaths exceeded 900 in the UK. The ubiquity of COVID-19 pneumonitis risked causing tunnel vision among many clinicians at the time. Tension pneumothorax, by contrast, is a relatively uncommon presentation with high mortality. One systematic review estimated the mortality of tension pneumothorax at 6.7% in unventilated patients, increasing up to 22.7% in ventilated patients. This case report aims to emphasize the importance of recognizing tension pneumothorax as a possible complication of COVID-19 pneumonitis even after apparent recovery.
J Med Case Reports. 2022;16(88) © 2022 BioMed Central, Ltd.