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Development of a large spontaneous pneumothorax after recovery from mild COVID-19 infection
  1. Krishidhar Nunna and
  2. Andrea Barbara Braun
  1. Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrea Barbara Braun; abbraun{at}


A previously healthy 37-year-old man presented with fevers and myalgias for a week with a minimal dry cough. Initial SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal testing was negative, but in light of high community prevalence, he was diagnosed with COVID-19, treated with supportive care and self-quarantined at home. Three days after resolution of all symptoms, he developed sudden onset chest pain. Chest imaging revealed a large right-sided pneumothorax and patchy subpleural ground glass opacities. IgM and IgG antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 were positive. His pneumothorax resolved after placement of a small-bore chest tube, which was removed after 2 days.

This case demonstrates that patients with COVID-19 can develop a significant pulmonary complication, a large pneumothorax, despite only minimal lower respiratory tract symptoms and after resolution of the original illness. Medical professionals should consider development of a pneumothorax in patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and present with new respiratory symptoms.

  • pneumothorax
  • pneumonia (infectious disease)
  • adult intensive care
  • pneumonia (respiratory medicine)

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  • Contributors ABB and KN equally contributed to the drafting and writing of the case report and provided final approval of the manuscript. Both agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work. ABB was the attending physician for the patient, and KN was the critical care fellow who admitted the patient.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.