Air in the pleural cavity is termed pneumothorax. When this occurs in the absence of trauma or medical intervention, it is called spontaneous pneumothorax. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax typically occurs in young patients without known lung disease. However, the idea that these patients have "normal" lungs is outdated. This article will review evidence of inflammation and respiratory bronchiolitis on surgical specimens, discuss the identification of emphysema-like change (i.e., blebs and bullae), the concept of pleural porosity and review recent data on the overexpression of matrix metalloproteinases in the lungs of patients who have had pneumothorax.
Journal of clinical medicine
Respiratory Trials Unit, Oxford Centre for Respiratory Medicine, Churchill Hospital, NHS Trust, Oxford OX3 7LJ, UK.