Diagnosis - Pneumology

Pneumothorax

Pneumothorax, or collapsed lung, is a medical emergency which occurs when air enters the space between the lungs and the inner wall of the thorax. This causes the lung to collapse in upon itself - either partially or completely - due to its elastic properties. Pneumothorax may arise following a puncturing injury to the chest wall, as a result of lung disease or injury, following a medical procedure involving the lungs or spontaneously for no obvious reason. Symptoms often include sudden shortness of breath, a dry cough and pain in the chest or back. A minor pneumothorax may heal without treatment however in many cases; the excess air must be slowly removed through a tube that is inserted between the ribs.

Pulmonary embolism

A pulmonary embolism is generally caused by blot clots becoming embedded in one or more of the arteries of the lungs. These clots often originate in the legs and travel to the lungs in the bloodstream. Signs of pulmonary embolism may include chest pain, the coughing up of blood or sudden shortness of breath. Pulmonary embolism can be fatal but speedy treatment with medications against clotting can significantly reduce this risk. The risk of pulmonary embolism can also be reduced through measures that prevent blood clots forming in the legs.

Pulmonary hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension affects the blood vessels of the lungs and the right side of the heart. Pulmonary hypertension is caused when the tiny blood vessels of the lungs become narrowed, blocked or destroyed completely. This makes blood flow through the lungs more difficult, resulting in increased blood pressure in both the blood vessels of the lungs and those that deliver blood from the lower right chamber of the heart to the lungs. Because the lower right chamber of the heart has to work harder to pump against this increased pressure, the heart muscle on the right side eventually becomes weaker and can fail altogether. Pulmonary hypertension can be a severe disease and without treatment it becomes progressively worse, sometimes ending in death. However, many treatments for pulmonary hypertension are available that help to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and improve prognosis.