Rare Preemie Conditions

Air Leak

What is air leak? In normal breathing, air travels down your windpipe into air sacs in your lungs. In premature infants with undeveloped lungs, these sacs are susceptible to rupture, allowing air to leak into areas including the chest wall, blood vessels, or the heart.

Is air leak dangerous? The symptoms and seriousness of air leak vary greatly, depending on the amount of air and where it's leaked. In mild instances, the problem should correct itself. In more serious instances, air leak can cause sudden and rapid deterioration. However, quick and proper treatment should eliminate any danger.

How is air leak treated? Some forms of air leak are easier to treat than others. A small air leak often needs no treatment. In moderate cases, doctors will use a ventilator to adjust the pattern of baby's breathing. Serious cases can be treated with a tube inserted into the chest, which uses suction to remove the air from where it's collecting.

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