Primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP) patients are probably exposed to a high burden of radiation. These patients are usually young and radiation exposure can be harmful.

Aim and objectives

The aim of this study is to analyse the amount of radiation exposure in primary spontaneous pneumothorax patients during the first event and subsequent episodes. 


Patients with primary spontaneous pneumothorax were retrospectively analyzed for the number of chest x rays and chest CT scans related to the diagnosis/treatment of the pneumothorax in an academic (Leiden University Medical Center) and a teaching hospital (Alrijne) in the Netherlands. The number of imaging studies was counted for the first episode and all subsequent episodes of ipsilateral and contralateral recurrence.


From January 2015 till December 2022 the medical files of 180 primary spontaneous pneumothorax patients were analyzed. An average number of 20 chest x rays were performed per patient. In the academic center half of these patients received one or more chest CT scans. In the teaching hospital a chest CT was performed in one third of all pneumothorax patients.


These findings suggest that the radiation exposure is high in spontaneous pneumothorax patients. Aims to reduce recurrence (smoking cessation and detecting and treating high risk cases with thoracic surgery for the first episode such as Birt-Hogg-Dubé patients), as well as other techniques to confirm a diagnosis of pneumothorax or evaluate the efficacy of chest tube drainage (ultrasound) are needed 1,2.    


1.Critical Care 2013;17(5): R208

2.Chest 2011;140:859-66