Hospital da Luz Setúbal Publishes Article in British Medical Journal

Jorge Mercier, specialist in Internal Medicine and coordinator of Permanent Medical Attendance at Hospital da Luz Setúbal, is one of the authors of a paper published last January 5 in the British Medical Journal, on a rare case of respiratory disease (bilateral secondary spontaneous pneumothorax).

Pneumothorax is a serious clinical condition, generally of sudden occurrence, caused by the passage of air from the lungs to the pleural space (between the lungs and the thoracic cavity, which is usually a virtual cavity).

When this occurs, the lung collapses (shrinks and loses the capacity to expand), which generates pronounced respiratory difficulty and pang-like thoracic pain. Usually, it only affects one of the lungs and is more frequent in smokers (spontaneous pneumothorax) or after thoracic trauma.

In the case analysed in the article, the patient – a 40-year-old male and heavy smoker (about 40 cigarettes a day over 20 years) – entered the emergency service with shortness of breath complaints, associated to acute thoracic pain. Through the clinical evaluation and exams performed, it was established the presence of pneumothorax, affecting simultaneously both lungs. Based on complementary study in internment, it was concluded that the two factors contributing to the situation were the smoking habits (lungs with emphysema bubbles) and protein deficiency (alpha 1 – antitrypsin), which predispose to this disease.

The paper now published by the British Medical Journal – entitled “Bilateral secondary spontaneous pneumothorax” – describes how the disease manifests, the exams that allowed to reach a diagnosis and detect the cause of this rare condition, as well as the treatments applied.
It also stresses the importance of suspending the habit of smoking.

The authors are, besides the Hospital da Luz Setúbal specialist, Diana Pereira (Internal Medicine Service from Centro Hospitalar de Setúbal), Rita Silvério and Hugo Casimiro (from the same hospital centre and from Instituto de Histologia e Biologia do Desenvolvimento, Faculdade de Medicina de Lisboa).

Read the paper here