Patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD) are often concerned about the occurrence of pneumothorax (collapsed lung) or other life-threatening events during air travel. However, new research shows that, even in ILD with a high prevalence of spontaneous pneumothorax, such as lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), there is a relatively low risk of these events occurring.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health reviewed records and imaging studies of 449 patients with sarcoidosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and LAM, who made a total of 816 trips by airplane and 416 trips by land. Results showed that the frequency of pneumothorax in patients with LAM was 2.9 percent in those who traveled by airplane and 1.3 percent in those who traveled by ground transportation. No patients with IPF or sarcoidosis had a new pneumothorax while traveling.
Researchers conclude that, in patients with LAM, the presence of pneumothorax associated with air travel may be related to the high incidence of pneumothorax from the disease itself and not to travel.
This article is published in the September issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.
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