Last reviewed 04/2022

A pneumothorax is air or gas in the pleural space (between the parietal and visceral pleura) (1).

  • the term ‘pneumothorax’ was first used in 1803 and later in 1819. At that time most cases were secondary to tuberculosis (2)
  • a generalized pneumothorax results when a whole hemithorax contains air. A localized pneumothorax occurs when the visceral and parietal pleurae have become adherent.

In England, the annual consultation rates for pneumothorax between 1991 and 1995 were 24/100 000 for men and 9.8/100 000 for women, and admission rates were 16.7/100 000 and 5.8/100 000, respectively (3).