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Cowboys confirm Romo’s fractured rib, collapsed lung

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 19: Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys calls a play against the New Orleans Saints on December 19, 2009 at Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Al Messerschmidt

The Dallas Cowboys have issued a statement saying that quarterback Tony Romo suffered a fractured rib in Sunday’s win over the 49ers, and that Romo suffered “pneumothorax.”

And every member of the sports media who received the statement asked in unison, “What the hell is pneumothorax?”

The National Institutes of Health explains: “A collapsed lung, or pneumothorax, is the collection of air in the space around the lungs. This buildup of air puts pressure on the lung, so it cannot expand as much as it normally does when you take a breath.”

Collapsed lungs are commonly caused by chest trauma, including rib fractures. Almost everyone who has a collapsed lung has shortness of breath as well as sharp chest pains that are made worse by deep breaths. It’s remarkable that despite that, Romo was able to not only keep playing but put on a brilliant performance in leading the Cowboys to a come-from-behind overtime victory.

Here’s the Cowboys’ statement in full: “Additional testing on the fractured rib of Tony Romo today revealed that he also has evidence of a pneumothorax—a condition that is not unusual for an injury such as the one Romo sustained in the game in San Francisco. Varying degrees of a pneumothorax can heal in differing time frames. The Cowboys medical team will continue to monitor the situation and conduct additional tests as the week progresses.”

Romo is expected to play next Monday against the Redskins.