Respirology/ ICU

Why is Oxygen Therapy used for Pneumothorax?

Why Nitrogen?? Nitrogen makes up a majority of the air we breathe (approximately 78%). By giving a patient 100% Oxygen, you decrease the partial pressure of nitrogen in the patient’s blood, thereby establishing a diffusion gradient. Of course, you create an O2 diffusion gradient in the other direction as well, but the O2 diffuses more slowly and is quickly absorbed by surrounding tissues.

*However, care should be taken in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who may retain carbon dioxide.


1. Baumann M H, Strange C, Heffner J E. et al Management of spontaneous pneumothorax: an American College of Chest Physicians Delphi consensus statement. Chest 2001119590–602.602.

2. Henry M, Arnold T, Harvey J. BTS guidelines for the management of spontaneous pneumothorax. Thorax 200358(Suppl II)ii39–ii52.ii52 

3. Ng C S, Lee T W, Wan S, Yim A P. Video assisted thoracic surgery in the management of spontaneous pneumothorax: the current status. Postgrad Med J 200682179–185.185 

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Dr. C Humphreys

Internal Medicine

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Dr. C Humphreys

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