Q:

What causes distinct black shadows on the lungs in X-rays?

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Quick Answer

Distinct black shadows on the lungs in X-rays result from air present abnormally between the inner border of the wall of the chest and the lung tissue border, as eMedicineHealth explains. Also known as pneumothorax, the condition is caused spontaneously, by rib fractures, injuries to the chest by blunt objects or accidents, rupturing of blebs or air blisters, and the use of a ventilator after chest operations.

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Full Answer

Distinct black shadows on lungs in X-rays are darker than the shadows that represent the lungs filled with air, according to eMedicineHealth.

In a patient suffering from pneumothorax, the lung or a portion of it collapses because of air pressure on the outside of the organ. Symptoms of the condition include pain in the chest that occurs suddenly and difficulty in breathing, and they are life-threatening, as Mayo Clinic reports.

Smoking increases the risk of developing pneumothorax spontaneously, as eMedicineHealth indicates. If small and present without any other lung disease, pneumothoraxnormally can resolve itself. However, if pneumothorax is large and the patient also suffers from other lung diseases, aspiration using a chest tube or needle to remove the air is necessary.

Sometimes, aspiration does not resolve the condition. In these cases, doctors perform surgery to seal the opening causing the air leakage, as explained by Mayo Clinic.

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