Definition of Open Pneumothorax

For an open pneumothorax, think ‘hole in the chest’. It is also known as a communicating pneumothorax or sucking chest wound.

Rare – typically caused by ballistic (shot gun) injury, and clearly unlikely to be missed clinically.

As the patient takes a breath in, the hole in the chest competes with the normal airway (mouth/nose to trachea) for delivery of air.

Learning Bite

A hole of only 1 or 2 cm in diameter may cause serious respiratory compromise, particularly in patients with comorbidities, and/or other injuries.