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Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2001 Sep;22(3):250-2.

Sudden death caused by tension pneumothorax after rupture of a thoracic aortic aneurysm. Case report.

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Department of Forensic Medicine, Tokyo Medical University, Sagamihara, Japan.


A rare case of fatal tension pneumothorax is reported. An aged Japanese man with marked subcutaneous emphysema of the neck was found collapsed in a betting office. He was ascertained to have left tension pneumothorax, based on radiographic examinations carried out before his death. At autopsy, severe pneumomediastinum was observed, and the descending thoracic aorta with a ruptured dissecting aneurysm was closely adhered to the left lung pleura. The hemorrhage spread into the pulmonary parenchyma and finally spouted out from the surface of the lung apex. Because the blood loss itself was not fatal in quantity, it is concluded that the patient died of tension pneumothorax caused by a lung penetration from the rupture of an aortic aneurysm.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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