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Epidemiology of pneumothorax – finally something solid out of thin air
  1. R J Hallifax,
  2. N M Rahman
  1. Oxford Respiratory Trials Unit, University of Oxford, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr R J Hallifax, Oxford Respiratory Trials Unit, University of Oxford, Churchill Hospital, Oxford OX3 7LJ, UK; robhallifax{at}

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Pneumothorax is a common pathology. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP) conventionally refers to patients with no underlying lung disease, while those with established lung pathology are classified as secondary spontaneous pneumothorax (SSP). Commonly quoted estimates of incidence of spontaneous pneumothoraces are based on studies that are often many years old and from single centres 45 years ago in the USA1 and 30 years ago in Sweden:2 with a reported overall incidence of 18–24 per 100 000 cases per annum for men and 1.2–6 per 100 000 for women and that of PSP as 7.4–18 cases (age-adjusted incidence) and 1.2–6 cases per 100 000 population per year for men and women, respectively.1 ,2 More recently, Gupta et al3 published the largest epidemiological dataset based on General Practice Research Database and Hospital Episode Statistics over 4 years in the UK. Mortality data were based on the Office of National Statistics data from 1950 to 1997 for all deaths from pneumothorax.3 The combined hospital admission rates for PSP and SSP in this study were 16.7 per 100 000 for men and 5.8 per 100 000 for women, with corresponding mortality rates of 1.26 per million and 0.62 per million per annum.3 There have been no large-scale epidemiological publications since, with most subsequent data being …

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