Pneumothorax originates from the Greek words pneuma (air) and thorakos (chest), and describes an abnormal collection of air within the pleural space. Depending on its size, the abnormal collection of air competes with the adjacent lung within a confined space, causing a partial or complete collapse of the lung, resulting in shortness of breath and pain. Pneumothoraces can either be spontaneous, often due to the rupture of a small lung bleb, or due to a secondary cause, such as trauma or cancer.

Patients who experience an episode of pneumothorax are often at risk for future events, or recurrence. To prevent this from happening, patients can be considered for minimally invasive surgery. The operation involves identification and removal of lung blebs (wedge resection) and application of a special medication (talcum powder pleurodesis) that aims to adhere the lung onto the chest wall, to prevent future lung collapse. Associate Professor Christopher Cao offers minimally invasive keyhole operations to treat this condition.