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Large, right lower lobe pneumatocele is shown, compromising ventilation in a premature infant with RDS and superimposed RSV pneumonitis.

A pneumatocele is a cavity in the lung parenchyma filled with air that may result from pulmonary trauma during mechanical ventilation.[1]


A pneumatocele results when a lung laceration, a cut or tear in the lung tissue, fills with air.[2] A rupture of a small airway creates the air-filled cavity.[1] Pulmonary lacerations that fill with blood are called pulmonary hematomas.[2] In some cases, both pneumatoceles and hematomas exist in the same injured lung.[3] A pneumatocele can become enlarged, for example when the patient is mechanically ventilated or has acute respiratory distress syndrome, in which case it may not go away for months.[3]


Diagnosis can be made using chest X-ray; the lesion shows up as a small, round area filled with air.[1] Computed tomography can give a more detailed understanding of the lesion.[1] Differential diagnoses, other conditions that could cause similar symptoms as pneumatocele, include lung cancer, tuberculosis, and a lung abscess[1] in the setting of Hyper IgE syndrome (aka Job's syndrome) or on its own, often caused by Staphylococcus aureus infection during cystic fibrosis.

Management and treatment[edit]

Treatment typically is supportive and includes monitoring and observation.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Atluri P, Karakousis GC, Porrett PM, Kaiser LR (2005). The Surgical Review: An Integrated Basic and Clinical Science Study Guide (Recall Series). Hagerstown, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 376. ISBN 0-7817-5641-3.
  2. ^ a b White C, Stern EJ (1999). Chest Radiology Companion. Hagerstown, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 80, 176. ISBN 0-397-51732-7. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
  3. ^ a b Gavelli G, Canini R, Bertaccini P, Battista G, Bnà C, Fattori R (June 2002). "Traumatic injuries: imaging of thoracic injuries". European Radiology. 12 (6): 1273–1294. doi:10.1007/s00330-002-1439-6. PMID 12042932.

Further reading[edit]

Al-Tarawneh, Emad; AL-Qudah, Mohammad; Hadidi, Fadi (March 2014). "Incidental Intraosseous Pneumatocyst with gas-density-fluid level in an adolescent: a case report and review of the literature". Journal of radiology case reports. 8 (8): 16–22. doi:10.3941/jrcr.v8i3.1540.