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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Spontaneous Tension Hemothorax in a Patient with Asbestosis


Case Presentation: A 75-year-old man with a history of asbestosis presented to the emergency department with sudden-onset dyspnea and hemoptysis, triggered by coughing. The patient was hemodynamically unstable and in respiratory distress. Computed tomography revealed a massive hemothorax on the left side and compression of the descending thoracic aorta. He underwent emergency surgical exploration after decompression by chest tube insertion. The hemothorax was caused by tears in the pleural adhesions due to asbestosis and induced by coughing.

Discussion: Spontaneous hemothorax is a rare subtype of hemothorax. There have been only a few case reports of spontaneous tension hemothorax. In addition to its typical findings, compression of the thoracic descending aorta was observed in our patient. We hypothesize that severely diminished pulmonary compliance contributed to the extremely high intrathoracic pressure, which led to this unusual finding.

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