Spontaneous cervicofacial subcutaneous emphysema secondary to pneumomediastinum in an otherwise asymptomatic child

October 4, 2012
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A 12-year-old boy presented with subcutaneous emphysema of the face, neck, and upper chest. He had no significant history that suggested any specific cause, and initial investigations revealed no underlying pathology. Computed tomography of the chest detected pneumomediastinum. The patient was managed conservatively, and he responded. He was discharged 7 days after admission with a complete resolution of the emphysema. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of spontaneous pneumomediastinum presenting as cervicofacial swelling in a child without any other symptoms.


When the underlying cause of emphysema is not clear, the condition is called spontaneous emphysema.1It arises in only a few sites, the most common of which is the mediastinum.2Subcutaneous emphysema is not usually a serious condition, but an underlying cause, such as pneumothorax, can be serious.

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CitationEar Nose Throat J. 2012 October;91(10):E9-E11