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Papers of the Week

2020 Apr




[Large Pneumothorax in a Sleep Apnea Patient with CPAP without Previously Known Lung and Thoracic Diseases – a Case Report].


Langner S, Kolditz M, Kleymann J, Tausche K, Almeida AB, Schweigert M, Koschel D
Pneumologie. 2020 Apr; 74(4):217-221.
PMID: 32274780.


CPAP is the most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.Serious complications from this treatment are very rare. Pneumothorax following lung barotrauma under CPAP therapy has been described in case reports only in patients with pre-existing lung and thoracic diseases.A 68-year-old sleep apnea patient without pre-existing lung or thoracic diseases and with established CPAP therapy since many years was admitted to the hospital after a severe thoracic pain event with persistent shortness of breath. Chest radiograph and computed tomography showed an extensive right-sided pneumothorax with basal bullous emphysema. After surgical treatment of the secondary spontaneous pneumothorax, on the third postoperative day CPAP with reduced pressure was re-introduced with satisfactory sleep apnea findings and without pneumothorax recurrence.As possible cause of pneumothorax in the patient, alveolar inflammatory changes due to over-distention and increased pressure in the alveoli was assumed, which can occur after years of CPAP treatment with gradual pressure increase.In summary, in sleep apnea patients treated with CPAP for years, after sudden onset of thoracic pain and shortness of breath possible spontaneous pneumothorax should be considered.