The key difference between hemothorax and pneumothorax is that hemothorax is the abnormal accumulation of blood in the pleural cavity, while pneumothorax is the abnormal accumulation of air in the pleural cavity.
The pleural cavity is the fluid-filled space that surrounds the lungs. It is normally found in the thorax, where it separates the lungs from its surrounding structures such as the thoracic cage, intercostal spaces, mediastinum, and diaphragm. Moreover, the pleural cavity is enclosed by a double-layered serous membrane called pleura. The pleural cavity is therefore located between the inner visceral pleural layer and the outer parietal layer. This lubricated pleural cavity allows the lungs to move freely during the process of breathing. Hemothorax and pneumothorax are two conditions arising due to abnormal accumulation of blood and air in the pleural cavity, respectively.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Hemothorax
3. What is Pneumothorax
4. Similarities – Hemothorax and Pneumothorax
5. Hemothorax vs Pneumothorax in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Hemothorax vs Pneumothorax
What is Hemothorax?
Hemothorax is the abnormal accumulation of blood in the pleural cavity. Symptoms of hemothorax may include chest pain, difficulty in breathing, reduced breath sounds on the affected side and rapid heart rate. Hemothorax usually occurs due to an injury, cancer invading the pleural cavity, blood clotting disorder, an unusual manifestation of endometriosis, response to collapsed lungs or any other condition. Typically, this condition can be diagnosed using a chest X-ray. But it can also be diagnosed through other forms of imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI.
By analyzing a sample of the fluid, the presence of blood can be differentiated from other forms of fluid within the pleural cavity. Normally, doctors treat hemothorax by draining blood by using a chest tube. If the bleeding continues, surgery may be required. The prognosis is really good if this condition is treated. However, some complications can be seen in hemothorax, such as infection within the pleural cavity and formation of scar tissues, etc.
What is Pneumothorax?
Pneumothorax is the abnormal accumulation of air in the pleural cavity. Symptoms may include sudden sharp one-sided chest pain and shortness of breath. In rare cases, a one-way valve is formed by an area of damaged tissue, and the amount of air in the pleural space increases. This situation is called tension pneumothorax. Tension pneumothorax causes a worsening oxygen shortage and low blood pressure. Both lungs are affected by pneumothorax very rarely. This is termed collapsed lungs. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs without any cause. However, smoking increases the risk of primary spontaneous pneumothorax. Secondary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs in the presence of existing lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and tuberculosis.
This condition can be diagnosed usually through chest X-ray, CT scan, and ultrasound. Small spontaneous pneumothorax resolves without treatment. In a large spontaneous pneumothorax, the air may be removed by a syringe or a chest tube. Surgery is required when the drainage is unsuccessful. The surgical treatment includes pleurodesis and pleurectomy.
What are the Similarities Between Hemothorax and Pneumothorax?
- Hemothorax and pneumothorax are two conditions due to abnormal accumulation of blood and air in the pleural cavity.
- Both conditions can be due to underlying lung diseases.
- They cause chest pain and breathing difficulties.
- These conditions can be cured through proper drainage.
What is the Difference Between Hemothorax and Pneumothorax?
Hemothorax refers to an abnormal accumulation of blood in the pleural cavity, while pneumothorax refers to an abnormal accumulation of air in the pleural cavity. So, this is the key difference between hemothorax and pneumothorax.
The below infographic lists the differences between hemothorax and pneumothorax in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Hemothorax vs Pneumothorax
The pleural cavity is the fluid-filled space between the lungs and the chest wall. It helps the lungs to move freely during breathing. Hemothorax and pneumothorax are two conditions due to abnormal accumulation of blood and air in the pleural cavity, respectively. Thus, this is the key difference between hemothorax and pneumothorax.
1. Jewell, Tim. “Hemothorax: Definition, Symptoms, and Treatment.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 28 Aug. 2017.
2. Nazario, Brunilda. “Pneumothorax (Collapsed Lung): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment.” WebMD, WebMD, 12 June 2020.