Open Access Open Badges Research article

Impact of oxygen concentration on time to resolution of spontaneous pneumothorax in term infants: a population based cohort study

Huma Shaireen12, Yacov Rabi123, Amy Metcalfe4, Majeeda Kamaluddeen12, Harish Amin12, Albert Akierman12 and Abhay Lodha1235*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, University of Calgary, Foothills Medical Centre, Rm C211, 1403-29TH Street, T2N 2 T9 Calgary, Alberta, Canada

2 Alberta Health Services, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

3 Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

4 Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

5 Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Pediatrics 2014, 14:208  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-208

Published: 23 August 2014



Little evidence exists regarding the optimal concentration of oxygen to use in the treatment of term neonates with spontaneous pneumothorax (SP). The practice of using high oxygen concentrations to promote “nitrogen washout” still exists at many centers. The aim of this study was to identify the time to clinical resolution of SP in term neonates treated with high oxygen concentrations (HO: FiO2 ≥ 60%), moderate oxygen concentrations (MO: FiO2 < 60%) or room air (RA: FiO2 = 21%).


A population based cohort study that included all term neonates with radiologically confirmed spontaneous pneumothorax admitted to all neonatal intensive care units in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, within 72 hours of birth between 2006 and 2010. Newborns with congenital and chromosomal anomalies, meconium aspiration, respiratory distress syndrome, and transient tachypnea of newborn, pneumonia, tension pneumothorax requiring thoracocentesis or chest tube drainage or mechanical ventilation before the diagnosis of pneumothorax were excluded. The primary outcome was time to clinical resolution (hours) of SP. A Cox proportional hazards model was developed to assess differences in time to resolution of SP between treatment groups.


Neonates were classified into three groups based on the treatment received: HO (n = 27), MO (n = 35) and RA (n = 30). There was no significant difference in time to resolution of SP between the three groups, median (range 25th-75th percentile) for HO = 12 hr (8–27), MO = 12 hr (5–24) and RA = 11 hr (4–24) (p = 0.50). A significant difference in time to resolution of SP was also not observed after adjusting for inhaled oxygen concentration [MO (a HR = 1.13, 95% CI 0.54-2.37); RA (a HR = 1.19, 95% CI 0.69-2.05)], gender (a HR = 0.87, 95% CI 0.53-1.43) and ACoRN respiratory score (a HR = 0.7, 95% CI 0.41-1.34).


Supplemental oxygen use or nitrogen washout was not associated with faster resolution of SP. Infants treated with room air remained stable and did not require supplemental oxygen at any point of their admission.

Oxygen; Pneumothorax; Newborn and nitrogen wash out