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J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2009 Jun;67(6):1265-8. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2008.12.050.

Iatrogenic subcutaneous emphysema of dental and surgical origin: a literature review.

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1
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Subcutaneous emphysema arises when air is forced beneath the tissue, leading to swelling, crepitus on palpation, and potential to spread along the fascial planes. The goal of this literature review is to alert the oral and maxillofacial surgeon to the inciting factors, diagnosis, and management of subcutaneous emphysema.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

A comprehensive search of the medical and dental literature from 1993 to 2008 was performed using PubMed, and yielded 32 case reports of subcutaneous emphysema. Only cases associated with dental or surgical procedures were included. Cases of trauma were excluded.

RESULTS:

Sixteen of the 32 cases were linked to the use of air-driven handpieces. Other cases involved a CO(2) laser, a NO(2) cryomachine, an air abrasive system, endotracheal intubation/ventilation, and patient activities after surgical procedures. Of the cases reviewed, 5 resulted in significant complications after subcutaneous emphysema.

CONCLUSION:

Although rare, iatrogenic subcutaneous emphysema can have serious and potentially life-threatening effects. Care should be taken when using air-driven handpieces or performing endotracheal intubation/ventilation. Additionally, instructions should be given to patients after procedures violating the epithelium to reduce the incidence of subcutaneous emphysema. When subcutaneous emphysema does arise, it must be quickly diagnosed and properly managed to reduce further complications.

PMID:
19446214
DOI:
10.1016/j.joms.2008.12.050
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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