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Eureka! A surprising appearance after aspiration of a haemopneumothorax: treat the patient not the radiograph
  1. J J E Johnston,
  2. H D Dowd
  1. Correspondence to:
 J J E Johnston
 Accident and Emergency Department, University Hospital of North Durham, North Road, Durham DH1 5TW, UK;


We describe the aspiration of a traumatic haemopneumothorax and an unexpected anteroposterior chest radiograph finding after the procedure. Chest aspiration is now routine emergency management for spontaneous pneumothorax. There have been no previous documented reports of this clinical scenario of radiological deterioration with clinical improvement after aspiration of a haemopneumothorax.

  • Chest x ray
  • haemopneumothorax
  • haemothorax
  • pneumothorax
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  • * Although many of mankind’s discoveries were the result of serendipity, the first recorded example of an accidental discovery took place in third century BC Greece. The king of Syracuse, Hiero, suspected his new gold crown was not pure gold. He called on the services of the mathematician Archimedes to lay his fears to rest. Archimedes knew that to determine what the crown was made of, he would need to work out the volume of an irregular solid. When he stepped into the bath, he noticed water spilling over the top, and suddenly realised that the volume of the spilt water was equal to his bulk, thus, if he put the crown into water, he could find its volume. If he then put a block of pure gold the same weight as the crown into water, and the volume was the same, it would prove the crown was gold, not an alloy. According to the story, Archimedes was so excited, he jumped out the bath and ran naked through the streets of Syracuse shouting "Eureka, eureka!" – "I’ve found it!"

  • Competing interests: there are no competing interests

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