What is the role of injury in the etiology of pneumomediastinum (PM)?

Updated: Feb 26, 2019
  • Author: Patrick L Carolan, MD; Chief Editor: Girish D Sharma, MD, FCCP, FAAP  more...
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Answer

Penetrating or blunt injury to the thorax may cause air leak syndromes including pneumomediastinum. The etiology is thought to be related to the Macklin effect. Rezende-Neto et al reported that occult pneumomediastinum occurred in approximately 6% of all trauma patients with blunt chest injuries. [32] Patients with pneumomediastinum were more severely injured than those without as indexed by higher injury severity scores (ISS). However, none of the patients with occult pneumomediastinum had aerodigestive tract injuries and follow up chest CT scans demonstrated complete resolution of the pneumomediastinum in all cases.


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