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Pediatric Pneumothorax Medication

  • Author: William Gluckman, DO, MBA, FACEP; Chief Editor: Michael R Bye, MD  more...
Updated: Oct 26, 2015

Medication Summary

The only drug therapy that is currently a component of the standard of care for pneumothorax is administration of 100% oxygen. Patients with a thoracostomy tube in place should receive appropriate pain management, and patients in severe pain should receive morphine sulfate intravenously or a patient-controlled analgesia pump when appropriate. Some patients' pain can be controlled well with oral medications such as acetaminophen.

A study by Halliday et al examined the role of early postnatal corticosteroids in preventing chronic lung disease and found that some of these agents can result in pneumothorax as well as other potential or known adverse effects.[10]



Class Summary

Pain management is necessary for patients with a thoracostomy tube in place. Intravenous morphine sulfate should be administered in patients who experience severe pain. Pain can also be controlled with oral acetaminophen in some patients.

Morphine (Astramorph)


Morphine is an opioid analgesic that exerts its pharmacologic effects on the CNS and GI tract. It is a drug of choice for analgesia because of its reliable and predictable effects, safety profile, and ease of reversibility with naloxone.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Aspirin Free Anacin)


Acetaminophen is effective in relieving mild to moderate acute pain; however, it has no peripheral anti-inflammatory effects.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

William Gluckman, DO, MBA, FACEP President and CEO, FastER Urgent Care

William Gluckman, DO, MBA, FACEP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians, American Association for Physician Leadership

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Rene J Forti, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Emergency Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Children's Hospital at Montefiore

Rene J Forti, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Academic Pediatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Michael R Bye, MD Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine; Attending Physician, Pediatric Pulmonary Division, Women's and Children's Hospital of Buffalo

Michael R Bye, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Thomas Scanlin, MD Chief, Division of Pulmonary Medicine and Cystic Fibrosis Center, Department of Pediatrics, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Thomas Scanlin, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Society for Pediatric Research, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Thoracic Society, Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Heidi Connolly, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry; Director, Pediatric Sleep Medicine Services, Strong Sleep Disorders Center

Heidi Connolly, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Thoracic Society, and Society of Critical Care Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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  10. Halliday HL, Ehrenkranz RA, Doyle LW. Early (< 8 days) postnatal corticosteroids for preventing chronic lung disease in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jan 21. CD001146. [Medline].

Neonate with a right tension pneumothorax. Note the tracheal deviation to the left.
Subcutaneous Emphysema and Pneumothorax
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