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Sarcoidosis

How Common Is It For sarcoidosis Patients To Have Pneumothorax?

05/06/2008

Question:

I have had Sarcoidosis for the past 10 years and had 2 relapses although manage to work full time as a charge nurse. I recently came back from a holiday in China and sustained a pneumothorax. How common is this and what are the chances of it reoccuring? I am a 45 year old white scottish woman living in Edinburgh. UK

Answer:

Dear Madam-

Accurate data relating to the incidence of spontaneous pneumothorax in patients with sarcoidosis is unclear. However, some experts have estimated that it may occur in up to 2-4% of patients. Although pneumothorax can occur in patients with mild sarcoidosis, it is more common in those who have advanced disease with associated distortion of the normal lung anatomy (i.e., "bullous" lung disease).

The risk of recurrent pneumothorax is also unclear. In general, the risk of pneumothorax is believed to relate to more active disease (untreated inflammation in the lungs) and advanced disease (distortion of the normal lung anatomy). Rapid changes in pressure in the chest, such as occurs when a person changes elevation (airplanes, mountain-climbing or deep sea diving), would increase the risk of pneumothorax.

If you have no recurrence of pneumothorax, no treatment is needed (except to optimize the control of your sarcoidosis). However, if pneumothorax recurs, then you are likely to benefit from a surgical treatment called "pleurodesis", which can usually be performed using minimally invasive techniques (using a videoscope).

Sincerely,

For more information:

Go to the Sarcoidosis health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Elliott D Crouser, MD Elliott D Crouser, MD
Associate Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University