Pnuemothorax - Pleurectomy

Hi All,

 Just wondering if there is anyone else on the forums who has had a similar complication,

I  finished my first marathon last May and since then i started to get a stitch in my shoulder blade/back, almost crippling me, couldnt run and was short of breath. Long story short; turned out i had a Pnemuthorax(Collapsed Lung). It repaired itself, but kept happening so i was refered for surgery. 

 I am now 6 weeks post surgery and i started running last week. Started off with 5K, up to 10k already but just slow 10Ks. Going to focus more on 5K and getting my pace up before moving further than 10k. Then i will decide what my next marathon will be. 

 Curious if anyone else has had a similar injury and woud like to share their stories. 

The Collapsed lung is apparently completely unrelated to running, it was just a coincidence apparently. It is more common in tall thin males of my age(24). Now that i have had the pleurectomy surgery which is where the lining of the lung is striped which causes a sticky bloody glue that makes the lung STICK to the ribcage wall(stops it from collapsing). Normal operation of a lung is that it moves freely in your ribcage,(the lining or the 'pleura' as its called acts as a lubricant basically.) Theres a 4% my same lung could collapse and more likely my other lung could have it as well since ive had it once. But doctors told me to go live my life as i did before, even if that includes running marathons and training 30-60miles a week depending on the season.

My PB 5K was 18minutes before all of this started happening, and i just clocked 21minutes tonight (6weeks after surgery) hopefully i will get back to the same level as i was before. 

If anyone has had any similar experiences please share.


  • Hi
    I had this happen to me many years ago living in Barcelona, I was 21 and am now 39 and running my first marathon in 4 weeks. I was told to avoid scuba diving and sky diving but to just carry on regardless! It tajes some time to get past it mentally but I feel fitter than ever. GL
  • Hi Mark and Gary,

    I'm one week post surgery for a collapsed lung, it was a primary spontaneous pneumothorax which came out of the blue. It got me in the garden one day and felt like I'd pulled a muscle in my chest. I had VATS (video assisted thoracic surgery) and an apical chest drain before and after surgery which has left me still pretty beaten up but making progress every day now. I was in hospital for nearly three weeks total; waiting for it to heal up naturally, then surgery and plus four days rehab.

    Be interested to know how your running is these days? I see the thread is more than two years old now!

    Prior to this happening, 26th June, I was running 40 miles a week and in pretty good shape. Drs reckoned it'd be two weeks before I'd be able to start running again and I'm not going to rush the recovery, no way.

    Thanks, if you guys are still out there that is...

  • Hi there

    I was told the same, it happens for no particular reason and more commonly to slim young males. I should be safe now at 41.!

    I did my first marathon and got round in 3 .54 and was very happy.

    I am still running and no ill effects and have applied for London every year since without getting in. There is no reason you won't be as fit as before and I actually think it drives you on to do more as you think about what you have and what you can lose .

    Currently I am going through the whole rehab thing again as I am recovering from ACL surgery from playing football, but I will be back!

    Stay positive and you will be running again in no time!.
  • Hi Gary, that's really good, thanks for getting back to this thread. Great to hear you made a full recovery from that, but sorry to hear about the ACL now.

    Drs told me about the profile thing, which I fit, but at 40, am at the top end (20-40yr old slim males, otherwise fit, no underlying lung condition or trauma).

    Rehab's going well, resting loads, breathing, walking, etc....beginning to reduce painkillers and getting mobility back as bruising subsides.

    Good luck with London, I've applied too! Tried Paris? It's a fantastic course, superb atmosphere, and there's a great forum thread bumbling along on here.

  • Hi guys. Im now 2 years post surgery and running faster than ever. Posted a half marathon PB 1hr 16mins in april. The only problem I have now is everyday running injuries. Still get odd feelings in the chest from time to time but its common because of the nerves that run along the ribcage.
  • Great to hear it Mark, well done. Wow, 1hr16 is an amazing achievement, do you think there's more there in the future?

    I've got to get this purse stitch taken out next Friday where the apical drain was but the swelling's going down really fast now, can bend twist and am able to take a full breath of air without it hurting now. The real test is: I can sneeze again, nearly... Otherwise, all incisions are healing up a treat so it's not bad really. Am certain that fitness prior to this event is really helping the recovery.

    Hopeful to be able to go out for a little jog this time next week!

  • Yea for sure more to come fingers crossed. Just need to get over this damn hamstring injury image

    Im interested to know if you ever smoked? Live with someone who does smoke?

    I was running probably two weeks after surgery. You will feel great too once you start running. When i ran i felt like it was the only time i was getting good breaths of air to begin with. 

  • Grew up with a smoker and shamefully smoked myself until i stopped, completely (not even one lapse), four years ago.

    Drs were surprised this had happened and put it down to bad luck, possible low level genetic disposition not worth investigating (cousin has had same problem). Chest xrays show no underlying lung problems and O2 saturation is at 100%, clean as a whistle, thankfully.

    Really pleased to hear you were up and out there two weeks after surgery, can't wait but will, not going to rush this recovery.

    Hamstrings can be swines, good luck with them. I use a rumbleroller on them to good effect?

  • 15 days after surgery, went for a very gentle two mile run today. As you two might remember it was great to get out there again after a surprise injury.

    The run was good, slow, very tentative, checking breathing and for any signs of breathlessness. HR was all over the place but then haven't run for a month. Felt tight across the ribs and got the occasional pull in the shoulder and around incisions, to be expected. Probably have to adjust breathing over time but for now just thinking about getting fitness back and checking that the surgery has worked. A few hours later, feel fine and incredibly happy to be back in trainers again. The road is open again for recovery running!

  • Congratulations on the first run back. It feels great doesn't it. Just take your time coming back, 2-3 mile runs to start with. Every other day.

    One good thing about having to run very gentley you can focus on your breathing and form. Great running book back the great Jack Daniels recommends the 2-2 breathing technique. Which means breathing in for 2 steps and out for 2 steps.


    Here is an extract from the book.

    Happy training!!

  • Thanks for that Mark, some really good stuff there and it got me to dig out Jack Daniels' book which I've got and re-read that section too.

    Went out for three miles this evening at 70%HR and clocked in at a magnificent 11:22min per mile average (bit hilly), felt good though and focused on steady breathing. Before this happened (about a month ago) I was comfortably ticking along around 9:15m/m at the same level of exertion..... so quite a difference. Hey, the fact that I'm able to run at all is fantastic, I'm not complaining.

    But whilst out at my new 'easy' pace I was wondering, Mark and Gary, how long it took you to get back to where you were with your running before your lung collapses?

  • Soooo, took a break yesterday. Went out this evening, same course, same distance, same exertion (70%HR) and knocked 20 secs per mile off the average pace!

    Breathing seemed a little bit freer, less snatchy, and no aches or, progress already! There is no way I am going to rush this recovery and strangely I really like running at 11min/mile, could get used to it!

  • got up to 11 miles on the lsr now  (10mins per mile) - 1 month post surgery, felt good, bit lopsided gait though. Going to give the Cheltenham HM a crack on the 7th Sept at the same pace and keeping my place in the Abingdon marathon (19th Oct) open, for now.

    Going back to see the surgeon and have a check up on 28th Aug - I think all will be ok but be good to get signed off. Rib weirdness is still there but slowly subsiding and no shortness of breath. There's no way I can run for any length of time at the pace I used to but I'm ok with that - very happy to be a completer rather than a competer for the time being.

  • Did the Cheltenham half marathon comfortably on Sunday, exactly three months post-surgery. It was a bit of a last minute decision but glad I did it as felt really good all the way round. Huge confidence booster that running post-surgery will be alright again. Surgeon said it wouldn't be until Christmas that full lung functionality (all the alveoli) comes back into action. 1hr55 - very happy with that at 'easy' effort.

  • Hi orapidrun, 

    Been a while since i posted on here. How are you getting on nearly a year on?

    I am 3.5 years post surgery and this year achieved PB of 1hr 16 1/2 marathon and 2hr 50 in the marathon. However whilst on holiday in spain last week i woke in the middle of the night with chest pain whilst breathing. Every inhale/exhale produced a sharp pain similar to the symptom of a pneumothorax. I flew home anyway (which was stupid if i had of had a pneumothorax) Went straight to A & E and had X-RAY, blood tests, Oxygen levels taken. Everything came back normal but i knew something wasn't right and still isn't. When i take a deep exhale, there is a crackling/bubbling noise which is unsettling.

    I don't know if it's in my head now but it feels like i am a little short of breath than normal during runs. (I've continued to train this week) When you think your short of breath you almost focus on your breathing too much and make yourself feel like you are. I went to my GP twice this week to get re tested and they suggest that everything is normal, good air intake, oxygen levels etc.

    The surgery has worked in that my lung didn't collapse but im wondering did another air leak occur? Really worried and feel like i cant get on with my life worrying about it getting worse or needing a repeat procedure. The worst thing is trying to get someone to take a closer look at me since GP and Hospital are saying everything is showing as normal.

    Do you ever experience any cracking sounds or weird noise when breathing deeply?



  • Hi Mark Long 14,

    Doesn't sound good does it. I reckon you might need to just take it easy for a bit. I was going to say to push for an xray but you've had one already, so don't know what to suggest?

    One year on, all seems to be fine, did both Paris and London marathons back in April, pb'd in Paris. I was anxious as hell on the 1yr anniversary in June, can still 'feel' the chest drains. I find just normal breathing in the heat harder than before but am getting faster by regularly doing interval training with club so can handle hard training, no problems or pains. Occasional pains in the other side but then probably hyper-sensitive to these thoughts and feelings, don't think it's outside the normal range. I don't get cracking sounds or any wierdness but then it's taken a year to settle down and get to a 'new normal'. I can only now take a full deep breath without a spontaneous pnuemothorax memory crossing my mind.

    Do you get a bubbling sound on the ribs, which is essentially air leaking out of the lung? If you start getting breathless when you're walking around then hit the panic button, the running short of breathness could be all manner of reasons; air pressure, temperature, fatigue....wouldn't let that one get you.

    Hope it resolves itself, all the best.



  • Picking up on this thread! I had a pleurectomy and bullectomy 12 years ago when I was 18, after suffering a few spontaneous pneumothorax. At the time I wasn't a runner nor did any exercise at all! I took up running when I was 23 to keep fit and have managed a 1:16 half and a couple of marathons. For me, the pleurectomy had never been something I have thought about at all. However, I think I've done a bit too much this year and I have in the last week or so started to feel a bit of a 'sensation' at the top of my lung. It's not painful or uncomfortable but feels like inflammation or something... like where the lung is now attached to the chest wall. Has anyone ever had this feeling? It doesn't really bother me but may get it checked out. However, I imagine the GP will refer me pretty quickly due to my history which will probably be a bit of drama for nothing!
  • No harm in getting it checked out, MrJS.

    I'm one year post-op, no pain or discomfort to report of. Half-M time is down from 1:55 (six weeks, post-op) to 1:38 (3 weeks ago) and came 260ish/800 in a 100k event back in July. Fitter than ever and progressing. Really hope it stays this way and still mindful of red-zoning in races.....  marathon coming up next month!

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