Traumatic pneumatocoele

Last revised by Liz Silverstone on 15 May 2024

A traumatic pneumatocoele is caused by a compression-decompression force which causes a burst injury. Elastic recoil creates a cavity which may contain gas and blood.

Traumatic pneumatocele is synonymous with pulmonary laceration.

They tend to occur in children and young adults, mostly due to the flexibility and compliance of their thoracic wall

It is defined as a thin walled, air filed cavity of the lung, which does not have epithelial lining or bronchial wall elements, and is therefore often referred to as a pseudocyst (traumatic pulmonary pseudo cyst).

The cavities develop over a few hours or days following trauma and are initially obscured by contusion. The size, shape, thickness of the wall and number of pneumatoceles varies from patient to patient. The location can be at the site of impact or an area vulnerable to compression injury e.g. adjacent to the spine.

In 1940, Fallon described for the first time a traumatic pulmonary pseudocyst 6.

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