What are the late physiologic sequelae of unresolved hemothorax?

Updated: Jul 13, 2020
  • Author: Mary C Mancini, MD, PhD, MMM; Chief Editor: Jeffrey C Milliken, MD  more...
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Two pathologic states are associated with the later stages of hemothorax: empyema and fibrothorax. Empyema results from bacterial contamination of the retained hemothorax. If undetected or improperly treated, this can lead to bacteremia and septic shock.

Fibrothorax results when fibrin deposition develops in an organized hemothorax and coats both the parietal and visceral pleural surfaces. This adhesive process traps the lung in position and prevents it from expanding fully. Persistent atelectasis of portions of the lung and reduced pulmonary function result from this process.

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