Pneumothorax vs Hemothorax: Difference and Comparison

The fluid-filled region that surrounds the lungs is known as the pleural cavity. It is located in the thorax, where it divides the lungs from the thoracic cage, intercostal spaces, mediastinum, and diaphragm, among other issues.

Hemothorax and pneumothorax are two disorders that occur when blood and air accumulate abnormally in the pleural cavity. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Pneumothorax accumulates air in the pleural space, causing lung collapse, whereas hemothorax results from blood filling the pleural space.
  2. Symptoms of pneumothorax include sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, and rapid heart rate; hemothorax symptoms are similar but may also involve pale skin and reduced blood pressure.
  3. Treatment for pneumothorax may include observation, needle aspiration, or chest tube insertion; hemothorax requires chest tube insertion and blood transfusion.

Pneumothorax vs Hemothorax 

Pneumothorax is a condition where air accumulates in the pleural space, which is the space between the lung and the chest wall, causing the lung to collapse, leading to a range of other symptoms. Hemothorax is a condition where blood accumulates in the pleural space caused by trauma to the chest.

Pneumothorax vs Hemothorax

A pneumothorax is a medical term for a collapsed lung. When the air gets into the area between your lung and chest wall, it’s called a pneumothorax.

As air pushes against the outside of your lung, it collapses. A pneumothorax is when the lungs collapse completely or partially. 

Hemothorax is the presence of blood in the pleural region. The source of blood could be the chest wall, lung parenchyma, heart, or main vessels.

The volume of blood in this region can eventually cause it to collapse as blood pushes against the outside of the lung. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Pneumothorax Hemothorax 
Definition Abnormal accumulation of air in the pleural cavity. Abnormal accumulation of blood in the pleural cavity. 
Symptoms Shortness of breath, chest discomfort Difficulty in breathing, chest pain, reduced breath sounds on the affected side, rapid heart rate. 
Common Causes Chest injuries Chest trauma or injuries, and a blood-clotting defect 
Treatments Air is removed using a syringe or a chest tube and surgeries such as pleurodesis and pleurectomy. By draining the blood by using a chest tube and video associated thoracoscopic surgery. 
Found in Other Animals Dogs and pigs Horses 

What is Pneumothorax? 

The abnormal collection of air in the pleural cavity is known as pneumothorax. Sudden severe one-sided chest discomfort and shortness of breath are common symptoms.  

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A one-way valve is established by a damaged tissue area in rare circumstances, and the air volume in the pleural space increases. Tension pneumothorax is the medical term for this condition.  

Tension pneumothorax worsens oxygen deficiency and lowers blood pressure. Pneumothorax affects both lungs only extremely infrequently. Collapsed lungs are the medical term for this condition. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax happens for no apparent reason.  

Smoking, on the other hand, raises the chance of a primary spontaneous pneumothorax.

In the presence of existing lung disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, or tuberculosis, secondary spontaneous pneumothorax can occur.

Pneumothorax has various causes like chest injuries, medical procedures, or it may be damage from lung disease. 

Chest X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds are commonly used to identify this illness. A small spontaneous pneumothorax goes away on its own.

Doctors can try to drain the air with the help of a syringe or a chest tube. When the drainage isn’t working, surgery is required.

Pleurodesis and pleurectomy are two surgical options. 

The prevalence of it is more likely in men than in women. Pneumothorax caused by ruptured air blisters is more common in people between the ages of 20 and 40, especially if they are exceptionally tall and underweight. 

What is Hemothorax? 

The abnormal collection of blood in the pleural cavity is known as hemothorax. Chest pain, trouble breathing, diminished breath sounds on the affected side, and a high heart rate is all symptoms of a hemothorax.  

An accident, cancer penetrating the pleural space, a blood clotting issue, an atypical presentation of endometriosis, a response to collapsing lungs, or any other condition might cause a hemothorax.  

A chest X-ray is used to diagnose this illness. Other imaging techniques, including ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI, can also be used to diagnose it. 

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Draining the blood from your chest cavity is the most critical treatment for hemothorax.

To drain any collected blood, fluid, or air, your doctor will likely insert a tube through your chest muscles and tissues, ribs, and chest cavity. A thoracentesis or thoracostomy is the medical term for this procedure. 

Dyspnea or difficulty breathing, pale skin, rapid breathing, pain or weight in the chest, anxiety, uneasiness, abnormally fast heartbeat, high temperature, cold sweats, and other symptoms are all common indications of hemothorax. 

Blood pooling in the chest can be caused by a variety of factors. It happens most after significant chest injuries or surgeries that require opening your chest walls, such as heart or lung surgery.

Certain illnesses that cause your blood to not clot properly can cause haemorrhage. 

Main Differences Between Pneumothorax and Hemothorax 

  1. Pneumothorax occurs when there is an abnormal collection of air in the pleural cavity where if the pleural cavity is filled with blood, it’s known as hemothorax. 
  2. Common symptoms of pneumothorax include shortness of breath and chest discomfort. Common symptoms of hemothorax include difficulty in breathing, chest pain, reduced breath sounds on the affected side, and rapid heart rate. 
  3. The most common cause of pneumothorax is chest injuries, and that of a hemothorax is chest trauma or a blood clotting defect. 
  4. To treat a pneumothorax, the air that has been accumulated is removed with the help of a syringe or chest, and surgeries like pleurodesis and pleurectomy are performed. To treat hemothorax, the blood is drained with the help of a chest tube, and a video-associated thoracoscopic surgery is performed. 
  5. Pneumothorax also has reported cases in dogs and pigs, and hemothorax has had reported cases in horses. 
Difference Between Pneumothorax and

Last Updated : 18 June, 2023

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9 thoughts on “Pneumothorax vs Hemothorax: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I was diagnosed with hemothorax, it would have been helpful to have this information before. But still, it’s good to know now.

  2. This information is crucial, especially for people without prior knowledge. Great insights on the similarities and differences between pneumothorax and hemothorax…


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