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Undersea Hyperb Med. 2006 Sep-Oct;33(5):313-6.

Pneumomediastinum after lung packing.

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  • 1Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Lung packing (glossopharyngeal insufflation) consists of forcing air into the lungs, using glossopharyngeal muscle contractions similar to swallowing. Breath-hold divers perform this technique after a maximal inhalation prior to diving, thus increasing initial lung volume. However, as suggested by previous authors, this breathing maneuver could theoretically lead to lung rupture. Here we report a pneumomediastinum found on chest CT scan in a diver during a physiological study, when glossopharyngeal insufflation increased the volume of gas in the lungs by 1,040 ml (over his total lung capacity); at the same time, his transpulmonary pressures increased up to 4.1 kPa. We discuss the possibility that the very high transpulmonary pressures during lung packing caused this pneumomediastinum.

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