What is a Lung Bleb?

Our lungs keep us alive: they exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen with the surrounding air. They’re a pair of pyramid-shaped organs connected to our windpipe by way of the right and left bronchi, which shuttle air to and from them. The blood within our lungs is what actually carries out the essential bodily function known as the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen. We need oxygen to perform almost every task we do, creating carbon dioxide in the process as a waste byproduct. And the lungs are left responsible for getting rid of carbon dioxide and and re-supplying the body with the oxygen it needs.

There are a variety of conditions that can manifest in the lungs, including tuberculosis, abscesses, and cancer. Lung cancer makes up approximately 13% of all new cases of cancer in the US. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2019, there will be more than 228,150 new cases of the disease diagnosed in American men and women, and more than 142,000 individuals will lose their lives to the deadly disease. In fact, lung cancer is sadly the leading cause of cancer-related mortalities in both genders: each year, more individuals succumb to the disease than breast, prostate, and colon cancers put together.

Another condition that can develop in the lungs is known as a lung–or pulmonary–bleb. These generally form in individuals who also have emphysema, a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that is characterized by damage to the lung alveoli, or air sacs. This is described as a tiny pocket of air between the lung and its outer surface, also known as the visceral pleura; pulmonary blebs tend to crop up in the lung’s upper lobes. When they rupture, the air captured within flees into chest cavity, leading to a pneumothorax, or air being caught between the lung and chest cavity. This could ultimately result in a collapsed lung.

If blebs become considerably large or are close enough together to combine and form a bigger cyst, they are then referred to as bulla. 

Lung blebs are generally asymptomatic unless the bulla becomes very big or a pneumothorax occurs.