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Phys Sportsmed. 2000 Aug;28(8):23-32. doi: 10.3810/psm.2000.08.1153.

Pneumothorax in sports: issues in recognition and follow-up care.

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Department of Medicine, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA.


Spontaneous and traumatic pneumothoraces are rare conditions found occasionally in athletes. Although generally not life-threatening, these conditions can be fatal if not appropriately diagnosed and managed. Expedient diagnosis depends on a thorough understanding of possible presenting signs and symptoms such as chest pain, dyspnea, and diminished breath sounds. A chest radiograph may be required for definitive diagnosis. Management depends on the size, stability, and type of pneumothorax and may include serial monitoring, tube thoracostomy, pleurodesis, or apical resection. Return-to-play guidelines after pneumothorax have not been previously published. We present recomendations based on a review of published case reports, our clinical experience, and communication with North American sports medicine providers.


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