What Is The Difference Between A Pneumothorax And Hemothorax?

Pneumothorax and Hemothorax are the disease of the lungs. While pneumothorax is the collection of air in the space between the chest wall and the lungs called as pleural space while hemothorax is associated with the collection of blood in the pleural space. Hemothorax is said to be more complicated disease when compared to pneumothorax however the treatment in both the cases is directed to remove the build-up in the pleural space as in case of pneumothorax it is air while in case of hemothorax the build-up is blood. The causes of both the disease are same in many cases. However, the treatment may vary as the approach of the treatment in pneumothorax is to remove excess air while in hemothorax, the strategy is to remove the blood, or any clot formed. The condition in which both the blood and the air are present in the pleural space is known as hemopneumothorax.

What Is The Difference Between A Pneumothorax And Hemothorax?

What Is The Difference Between A Pneumothorax And Hemothorax?

Pneumothorax as the term suggests pneumo- means air and -thorax means chest. Thus, pneumothorax is defined as the disease in which the air is filled in the pleural cavity. In similar way, hemo- means blood and the -thorax means chest, thus the hemothorax is defined as the condition of respiratory tract in which the blood is in the pleural space. In both the conditions, the build-up in the pleural cavity may be traumatic or non-traumatic. The hemothorax is more life-threatening condition as compared to pneumothorax as there is both shortness of breath and blood loss which may prove fatal to the patient. Some causes are similar in both hemothorax and pneumothorax such as accident, stabbing, cancer, infections, connective tissue disease and underlying lung disease. However, the hemothorax may also be caused due to defect in the blood clotting mechanism and the puncture of blood vessels while fixing a catheter. Hemothorax may also be caused due to extramedullary hematopoiesis and endometriosis.

Difference Between Symptoms Of Pneumothorax And Hemothorax

As the organ system involved in both the conditions is similar thus the symptoms of both the disease will be somewhat similar. The symptoms due to pneumothorax and hemothorax includes chest pain, shortness of breath, chest pain, cyanosis, diminished of absent breathing sounds, change in mental status and fatigue. However, as there is also blood loss in hemothorax, the severity of the symptoms depends upon the amount of blood escaped from the vessels and aggregated in pleural cavity. The additional symptoms associated with hemothorax include anemia or hypotension. The shortness of breath is more prominent in hemothorax due to loss of blood. In the same way, hypotension would be more pronounced in hemothorax as in addition to the lung collapse, there is also loss of blood. While comparing the physical parameters, the neck vein in tension pneumothorax is distended while in the hemothorax it is flat.

Difference Between the Treatment For Pneumothorax And Hemothorax

The treatment of the pneumothorax is aimed at the draining of the excess air present in the pleural cavity while the aim of treatment on hemothorax is the removal of blood from the pleural cavity. For the treatment of hemothorax in which the blood is clotted, streptokinase was found to be effective in some patients. The thoracotomy, in hemothorax is done in the conditions when there is a shock and acute blood loss. In the condition hen both the conditions are present simultaneously; two tubes are placed during chest thoracostomy. Decortication in hemothorax is done when the infection results in to empyema.


Hemothorax and pneumothorax are the two disease related to the respiratory system which in some cases requires immediate medical intervention. Although most of the symptoms of both the disease are similar but the presentation of the disease is different. While in pneumothorax, air is present in the pleural space, hemothorax is related to the presence of blood in the pleural space. Hemothorax has more prominent hypotension as compared to pneumothorax. Further, the treatment in both the condition depends upon the underlying mechanism for the development of disease.

Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 19, 2019

Recent Posts

Related Posts