Radiological assessment of pneumothorax

Theme Respiratory disease

Workstream Personalised care in pleural disease

Status: This project is ongoing

A pneumothorax is also known as a collapsed lung. It happens when air leaks into the space between our lung and chest wall (the pleural space), through the lining covering the lung. Treatment usually focuses on quickly re-inflating the lung by inserting a narrow tube (called a chest drain) between a patient’s ribs.

A chest drain lets healthcare professional monitor whether there is air continuing to escape from the lung into the pleural space. This is known as a persistent air leak (PAL). A patient experiencing this type of prolonged leak may need suction to be applied to the drain.

In addition, healthcare professionals use PAL to determine if treatment has been successful. They use it to decide when they should remove the chest drain and whether a patient will need surgery. However, we aren’t sure whether this is the best approach as some studies have suggested that an ongoing air leak could be associated with suction being applied to the drainage system.

Project aims

We will use a new imaging technique to explore whether continuous drainage through a chest drain and the application of suction makes the air leak associated with a pneumothorax worse. We also hope to be able to localise the source of such leaks, which may help healthcare staff provide more targeted treatment to patients in the future.

What we hope to achieve

The imaging technique we will be using during this study isn’t currently used for this purpose. We hope our research will show that it could be used in clinical practice, and it may contribute to improved patient care.

This project is being led by Dr Eleanor Barton under the supervision of Dr Steven Walker.