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Catamenial pneumothorax

Alifano, Marco

Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/MCP.0b013e32833a9fc2
Diseases of the pleura: Edited by Richard W. Light

Purpose of review: Although known for several decades, catamenial pneumothorax has been considered until recently as an extremely rare entity. The condition is now more easily recognized and several studies have been published, with somewhat relevant discrepancies with respect to etiologic, epidemiologic, and management features. In the present review, I will provide a synthesis of available knowledge on the subject.

Recent findings: Catamenial pneumothorax accounts for approximately one third of cases of spontaneous pneumothoraces in women referred for surgery. At video-assisted thoracic surgery, diaphragmatic defects and nodules are the most frequent findings. Pathology shows endometriosis in most instances. Endometrial implants in visceral pleura are also found, although less frequently. Findings of surgical explorations support the theory of transabdominal–transdiaphragmatic passage of air to explain the pathogenesis of catamenial pneumothorax.

Summary: Management of patients with catamenial pneumothorax implies surgery, if possible by video-assisted technology, to obtain samples for pathologic confirmation of endometriosis and to treat the main pathogenic mechanisms of pneumothorax. Partial diaphragmatic resection and/or exeresis of visceral pleural implants, as well as talc pleurodesis, are nowadays frequently carried out. Medical therapy to achieve ovarian rest is mandatory in the postoperative period, the multimodality management being the key to treatment success in this condition.

Author Information

Department of Thoracic Surgery, Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, AP-HP, Paris V University, Paris, France

Correspondence to Dr Marco Alifano, Unité de Chirurgie Thoracique, Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, 1, Place du Parvis Notre-Dame, Paris 75181, France Tel: +33 1423 488 07; fax: +33 1423 480 73; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.