Carbon Dioxide Pneumothorax Following Retroperitoneal Laparoscopic Partial Nephrectomy

A Case Report and Literature Review

Qiongfang Wu; Hong Zhang


BMC Anesthesiol. 2018;18(202) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Laparoscopy has many advantages when used to assist surgery. However, pneumothorax, as a rare but potentially life-threatening complication, it requires rapid recognition and treatment. CO2 pneumothorax may be distinct from air pneumothorax. Here we present a case with unexpected large and symptomatic CO2 pneumothorax and treated successfully in a conservative way.

Case presentation: A 27-year-old woman who was scheduled a laparoscopic partial nephrectomy received general anesthesia. At the end of surgery, she waked up and got spontaneous breathing. However, she developed a sudden fall in SpO2(approximately 30%) and blood pressure with subsequent unconsciousness after switching mechanical ventilation to spontaneous mode. With immediate manual ventilation, SpO2 and blood pressure recovered simultaneously and the patient regained consciousness. Point-of-care chest X-ray revealed a large, right pneumothorax occupying 70% of the hemi-thorax. Without chest drainage, she was extubated in the operating room and treated with supplemental facial mask oxygen therapy in PACU. On the postoperative 5th day, she was discharged without any further complication.

Conclusion: Retroperitoneal laparoscopic surgeries are likely to bring about severe capno-thorax, which could be absorbed rapidly. Chest X-ray could be used to assist diagnosis but point-of-care transthoracic ultrasound is recommended. Even severe capno-thorax could be treated conservatively. This case highlights the awareness and therapeutic choice of noninvasive management for capno-thorax.