Trapped Lung

What Is Meant By A Trapped Lung?

A trapped lung is literally a lung that is trapped inside surrounding tissues, and as such is unable to expand in a normal manner. There are a number of diseases and disorders of the lung which can impair our ability to breathe. Most of them are confined to tissues inside the lung and consist of viruses, bacteria, fluids, or other elements which upset the normal functioning of the lung, or prevent the blood vessels and tiny air sacs from doing their job.

In A Straightjacket - A trapped lung on the other hand is somewhat akin to placing the lung in a straight jacket. When we lie on our back and breathe deeply, we can feel, and even see, our lower abdomen expanding and contracting. A tight-fitting straightjacket would make breathing difficult, though not impossible, just as emphysema can make it difficult to breathe, for a different reason. With a trapped lung disorder one can still breathe (fortunately), but may only be able to take in shallow breaths, and consequently would be limited in the amount of motion or work that could be done.

A lung disorder people occasional experience is pleurisy, which is an inflammation of either or both of the pleura, two linings, one of which covers the lung, and the other which lines the chest wall. Inflammation of the pleura, especially inflammation of the lining covering the lung, can make breathing quite painful, although it won't necessarily interfere with breathing or with the elasticity of the lining covering the lung. Pleurisy is caused by an excessive accumulation of the fluid which lubricates the pleura, between the two pleura, a condition called pleural effusion.

The Lung Becomes Encased - In some instances, often in combination with another lung disease or disorder, this excess pleural fluid can form a fibrous substance, somewhat analogous to the peel or rind of a citrus fruit. This peel or rind forms a casement around the lung, essentially trapping the lung inside, and restricting lung expansion partially or nearly completely. It is as if a substance were sprayed on the lining of your lung which then dried and solidified. A trapped lung is indeed trapped.

A trapped lung is in itself a condition which requires treatment, but can also make treatment of other lung diseases more difficult to treat or to manage. The trapped lung condition is relatively rare, but it does affect a certain percentage of those who have tuberculosis, lung cancer, are suffering from mesothelioma, or have other lung diseases or disorders. The initial excess of pleural fluid, pleural effusion, can also result from using certain drugs or medications, and at times the only treatment reacquired is to cease using the medication that is at fault.

Trapped Lung Treatment - A trapped lung can be infected or not be infected, it can also be malignant or benign, but this is most often dictated by the presence of another disease or disorder. The most common type of treatment involves drainage of the area between the two pleural linings, and the administration of antibiotics. Although any procedure done in the chest area is usually considered major surgery, the procedure in this case is not, and can often be done with the patient under sedation using a local anesthetic, as a tube is inserted in the chest wall and the pleural space to withdraw accumulated liquid. The tube remains in place for several days while fluid continues to be drained out, so any treatment of trapped lung normally involves a hospital stay of several days to a week or more. In some instances it will be necessary to place a patient under general anesthesia if it becomes necessary to break up the fibrous material that is entrapping the lung.