Commercial air travel after pneumothorax: a review of the literature.

Air medical journal

PubMedID: 24001914

Bunch A, Duchateau FX, Verner L, Truwit J, O'Connor R, Brady W. Commercial air travel after pneumothorax: a review of the literature. Air Med J. 2013;32(5):268-74.
Because of the physiological stresses of commercial air travel, the presence of a pneumothorax has long been felt to be an absolute contraindication to flight. Additionally, most medical societies recommend that patients wait at least 2 weeks after radiographic resolution of the pneumothorax before they attempt to travel in a nonurgent fashion via commercial air transport. This review sought to survey the current body of literature on this topic to determine if a medical consensus exists; furthermore, this review considered the scientific support, if any, supporting these recommendations. In this review, we found a paucity of data on the issue and noted only a handful of prospective and retrospective studies; thus, true evidence-based recommendations are difficult to develop at this time. We have made recommendations, when possible, addressing the nonurgent commercial air travel for the patient with a recent pneumothorax. However, more scientific research is necessary in order to reach an evidence-based conclusion on pneumothoraces and flying.