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2022 Dec 17

Am Surg

Visible Apical Blebs on CXR: Are Plain Radiographs Under-Utilized in Primary Spontaneous Pneumothorax?


Lotakis DM, Bailey K, Criss C, Speck EK
Am Surg. 2022 Dec 17:31348221146960.
PMID: 36527441.


A primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP) is caused by rupture of subpleural emphysematous blebs, without inciting event or pre-existing co-morbidity. A previously healthy 16-year-old male presented with upper chest pain. As expected, chest radiographs (CXR) demonstrated a 13 mm pneumothorax. Additionally, a 4.7 cm apical bleb was identified. After six-hours of observation and non-rebreather oxygen mask therapy, follow-up CXR confirmed stable findings. The patient was subsequently discharged home after symptoms improved. Follow-up CXR at 2-weeks confirmed persistent visible apical bleb. After lengthy discussion addressing patient and parental concerns, elective surgical management was pursued. Current literature suggests blebs are not routinely identified on CXR. While there is no universally accepted management algorithm for PSP in children, visible apical blebs on CXR may influence the decision to pursue surgical intervention. Shared decision making should involve counseling regarding the recurrence risk following surgery, and consideration of patient-specific factors including patient and parental anxiety.