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Ulus Travma Acil Cerrahi Derg. 2019 Aug;25(5):497-502. doi: 10.14744/tjtes.2019.03161.

A comparative study of pneumomediastinums based on clinical experience.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Gülhane Training and Research Hospital, Ankara-Turkey.
Department of Pulmonology, Gülhane Training and Research Hospital, Ankara-Turkey.



Pneumomediastinum (PM) is the term which defines the presence of air in the mediastinum. PM has also been described as mediastinal emphysema. PM is divided into two subgroups called as Spontaneous PM (SPM) and Secondary PM (ScPM).


A retrospective comparative study of the PM diagnosed between February 2010 and July 2018 is presented. Forty patients were compared. Clinical data on patient history, physical characteristics, symptoms, findings of examinations, length of the hospital stay, treatments, clinical time course, recurrence and complications were investigated carefully. Patients with SPM, Traumatic PM (TPM) and Iatrogenic PM (IPM) were compared.


SPM was identified in 14 patients (35%). In ScPM group, TPM was identified in 16 patients (40%), and IPM was identified in 10 patients (25%). On the SPM group, the most frequently reported symptoms were chest pain, dyspnea, subcutaneous emphysema and cough. CT was performed to all patients to confirm the diagnosis and to assess the possible findings. All patients prescribed prophylactic antibiotics to prevent mediastinitis.


The present study aimed to evaluate the clinical differences and managements of PMs in trauma and non-trauma patients. The clinical spectrum of pneumomediastinum may vary from benign mediastinal emphysema to a fatal mediastinitis due to perforation of mediastinal structures. In most series, only the SPM was evaluated in many aspects, but there are fewer studies comparing the evaluation and management of traumatic and non-traumatic PMs. The patients with TPM who have limited trauma to the thorax and who do not have mediastinal organ injury in their imaging studies can be followed up and treated like SPM patients who do not have mediastinal organ injury, and both have good clinical course.

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