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Thread: pneumothorax - why the lung collaps?

  1. #1 pneumothorax - why the lung collaps? 
    Forum Sophomore Hymenophyllum's Avatar
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    why the lung collaps in pneumothorax? I read that it is because pressure equalization, but how does it lead to collapsed lung?


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    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    In a normal state, the pleural fluid serves as a viscous glue between the ribs and the lungs and makes inspiration and expiration possible.
    However, when the sealed pleural cavity is exposed to the atmosphere, the pressure will increase until the pressure inside the pleural cavity is equal to the atmospheric pressure,thereby disconnecting the lung from the chest wall, resulting into a collapsed lung.


    Last edited by Cogito Ergo Sum; May 17th, 2014 at 05:12 AM. Reason: Added a phrase.
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    Forum Sophomore Hymenophyllum's Avatar
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    Is it really possible to disconnect lung from chest wall? Isn't it permamently connected?

    So the pressure keeps lung "staying" and when it becomes equal to the atmosperhic pressure lung collaps, yes? If so, tell me how pressure holds lung considering that it is changing while breathing.
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    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hymenophyllum View Post
    Is it really possible to disconnect lung from chest wall? Isn't it permamently connected?
    Basically, the pleural fluid exerts cohesive forces between two pleural membranes (i.e. the visceral pleura and the parietal pleura, which cover the lungs and chest wall respectively). It is similar to two panes of glass with a thin layer of water between them: you can slide them back and forth, but you cannot pull them apart due to the cohesiveness of the water.

    Although the lungs are permanently connected to the chest wall via the pleural fluid, thereby allowing the process of breathing,
    the lungs can partially be disrupted from the chest wall during a pneumothorax.

    So the pressure keeps lung "staying" and when it becomes equal to the atmosperhic pressure lung collaps, yes?
    If so, tell me how pressure holds lung considering that it is changing while breathing.
    The subatmospheric pressure (-3 mmHg in rest, with 0 mmHg = Patm) is caused by the pull of the thoracic cavity and the inward recoil of the elastic lungs.
    This pressure changes as the thoracic cavity expands/shrinks and the elastic recoil increases/decreases during inspiration/expiration.


    Source:
    Silverthorn, D.U. (2012), "Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach, 6th Ed.", Pearson, Ch. 17
    Last edited by Cogito Ergo Sum; May 28th, 2014 at 10:45 AM.
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    Pneumothroax does happen and is a life threatening emergency. It will kill within 3-4 hours if not corrected. It can happen when something like a bullit punctures the chest, causing a "sucking chest wound". But the more dangerous version is when something punctures the lung but leaves the chest wall intact. This is a tension pneumothorax. The action of breathing forces air from the lung into the potential space between the lung and the chestwall, turning it into actual space. As the mass of air so trapped increases it leaves progressively less room for the lung to function, eventually the trapped air collapses the lungs and pushes the heart out of position. If allowed to progress to death there will be air forced into the tissues of the chest and neck causing a condition called "crepitus", it feels like fine textured "bubble wrap" is under the skin. Yes, I speak from experience.
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