Is Spontaneous Pneumothorax Really a Pediatric Problem

Pediatric Emergency Care, 04/13/2012

Dotson K et al. – Although uncommon in children, SP appears to be primarily a condition of males and adolescents and appears to be increasing in incidence in this population. According to these data, a large portion of children are being managed without procedural intervention.


  • This was a retrospective analysis of patients aged 0 to 17years hospitalized with a diagnosis of SP from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids’ Inpatient Database between 1997 and 2006.
  • Trends of overall incidence and demographic information, including age, sex, length of stay, associated procedures, and associated conditions, were obtained and analyzed.


  • The overall incidence of SP in children younger than 18years increased from 2.68 per 100,000 population in 1997 to 3.41 per 100,000 in 2006.
  • Average age (15.1years; SE, 0.1years), age distribution (83%=15-17years old), and hospital length of stay (4.7days; SE, 0.1days) remained constant.
  • Between 1997 and 2006, males rose from 3.7 times to 4.2 times as likely to develop SP as females.
  • In 2006, 70% of all hospitalized SP patients had therapeutic procedures documented: chest tube (32%), bleb excision (20%), and thoracotomy (8%) were the most common.
  • Emphysematous bleb (21%), asthma (10%), and tobacco use (4%) were the most common associated diagnoses in 2006.

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