Diagnosis of Spontaneous Secondary Tension Pneumothorax Following Apparent Recovery From Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pneumonitis

A Case Report

Romesh Tirimanna; James Myerson; Michael Okorie; Eleanor Dorman


J Med Case Reports. 2022;16(88) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 has been associated with a plethora of different manifestations of systems affected (including pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and thrombotic disease) and time to presentation of complications. Pneumothorax has been established as a complication in the literature. However, tension pneumothorax remains a rare presentation with higher mortality. We report a case of secondary tension pneumothorax in a patient following apparent recovery from coronavirus disease 2019 pneumonitis.

Case Presentation: Eight days after resolution of coronavirus disease 2019 pneumonitis symptoms, a 51-year-old Caucasian man with no pre-existing pulmonary disease was brought into the emergency department following 48 hours of progressive shortness of breath. Further clinical assessment revealed reduced breath sounds in the right lung, blood pressure was 116/95 mmHg, and jugular venous pressure was not elevated. Chest x-ray showed right-sided tension pneumothorax with mediastinal shift. Insertion of a chest drain led to rapid resolution of symptoms, and the patient was discharged following full re-expansion of the lung.

Conclusions: The period of recovery from coronavirus disease 2019 is variable. Clinicians should consider tension pneumothorax as a possible complication of coronavirus disease 2019 pneumonitis in patients presenting with type 1 respiratory failure, even after resolution of pneumonitis symptoms and a considerable time period following initial contraction of coronavirus disease 2019.