Medical Q&As

Pneumothorax - still in pain?

I have just been discharged from hospital after a suffering from a spontaneous pneumothorax. I had a chest drain inserted and the lung re-inflated. Now I find that the rib bones around my breast are sore to touch. Could this be a result of the chest drain or could it be something else? Even where my ribs meet in the middle is sore to touch.

It would not be unusual to experience some degree of discomfort so soon after the removal of a chest drain. When the drain is inserted into the chest cavity it is passed through an intercostal muscle, the intercostal muscles being those muscles that fill the spaces between the ribs. This procedure results in a surgically induced wound in the muscle and it can take some days before this wound heals fully. That is the most likely explanation for your pain and such pain can usually be alleviated by simple analgesia. It is also possible that the area where the drain was inserted could have become infected. Any time the integrity of the skin is breached it is possible for bacteria to enter the wound and this can occur even when the strictest hygiene protocol has been adhered to. In that latter scenario antibiotics might be necessary. It is also possible that you are being more active now than you were when you were in hospital and this increased level of physical activity might be causing you some increased discomfort in your chest. However, if you are experiencing a significant increase in your level of pain, resulting in disturbed sleep and a need to take more painkillers, then you should visit your GP and have your chest examined.