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Clinical features

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team


  • may be asymptomatic

  • rapid onset pleuritic chest pain

  • breathlessness is seldom severe unless a tension pneumothorax develops


  • tachypnoea

  • examination of the chest over a pneumothorax reveals:
    • reduced expansion
    • hyperresonance
    • reduced breath sounds
    • occasionally there is an inspiratory click

  • in a tension pneumothorax:
    • quick diagnosis and treatment are essential
    • breathlessness may increase rapidly
    • the shift of the mediastinum and apex beat is away from the side of the lesion

  • cyanosis is unusual unless there is a tension pneumothorax or underlying lung disease

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