Staphylococcal pneumonia is frequently complicated by development of pneumatoceles. Pulmonary change with development of the pneumatocele, as seen roentgenographically, is more common in infants and children but can occur in young adults. Our four cases demonstrate the significance of pneumatoceles in the course of acute suppurative pneumonia. Pneumatoceles have been known to occur in 61% of cases of staphylococcal pneumonia. The pneumatocele develops from perforation of an abscess into a bronchial wall, thus permitting air to enter the abscess cavity. A check-valve mechanism due to obstruction by inflammation and edema creates tension produced by the air trapping. Pneumatoceles usually appear within the first week of pneumonia and disappear in an average of six weeks. Surgical intervention is necessary only when pneumatoceles grow large enough to cause cardiorespiratory embarrassment by compression or by rupture into the pleural space.
Dines DE. Diagnostic Significance of Pneumatocele of the Lung. JAMA. 1968;204(13):1169-1172. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140260009003