A hemopneumothorax is a rare, but potentially life-threatening disorder in which bleeding into the pleural space occurs after the development of a pneumothorax. It may be either spontaneous or trauma-induced, and up to a third of patients present with symptoms of shock, in addition to respiratory difficulties such as dyspnea. The diagnosis must be made as soon as possible through imaging studies, including plain radiography, computed tomography, or ultrasonography.
In the literature, a hemopneumothorax is defined as an abnormal accumulation of blood (> 400 mL) in the pleural space (between the visceral and parietal layers of the pleura), predominantly as a complication of a pneumothorax (encompassing about 5% of cases)    . Various blood vessels located in the proximity of this anatomical landmark are identified as the source of bleeding (vessels in the adhesions between pleural layers are most common, whereas congenital aberrant vessels or a vascularized bulla are also described) and the majority of reports indicated that the cause is predominantly spontaneous, in the absence of trauma or other precipitating events     . In rare cases, however, chest trauma might lead to vessel rupture and consequent hemopneumothorax . For as yet unknown reasons, this disorder principally occurs in adolescents, with a stronger predilection towards the male gender   . The clinical presentation is comprised of the sudden spontaneous appearance of respiratory complaints, such as dyspnea and chest pain, but up to 30% of individuals suffer from hypovolemic shock, manifesting as hypotension and poor general condition  . The importance of an early diagnosis stems from the life-threatening nature of hemopneumothorax, which could also be complicated by infections, an inability of the lung to regain its structure or the persistence of a pneumothorax .
As hemopneumothorax may be fatal if undiagnosed early, physicians must include this clinical entity in the differential diagnosis of sudden chest pain and shock in otherwise healthy adolescents  . Thus, a thorough patient history regarding the course and progression of symptoms (as well as exclusion of preexisting illnesses or events that might point to an underlying cause) and a detailed physical examination, with an emphasis on pulmonary auscultation, are vital steps in raising clinical suspicion . A complete laboratory workup, particularly focused on a complete blood count (CBC), hematocrit levels (both from venous blood and the aspirated blood), and a full coagulation panel, can provide useful clues for confirming the diagnosis . Imaging studies, however, are the gold standard for the diagnosis of hemopneumothorax and should be employed as soon as possible. Plain radiography of the chest and ultrasonography have been shown to be very useful initial methods for evaluation of patients in whom pneumothorax and hemopneumothorax are suspected . Computed tomography (CT), particularly contrast-enhanced, is often used as a definite method for confirming the diagnosis and the underlying process that caused the bleeding (if present)   .