Hamman syndrome

Dr Henry Knipe and Dr René Pfleger et al.

Hamman syndrome, (or Macklin syndrome), refers to spontaneous pneumomediastinum along with subcutaneous emphysema.

It is a rare entity most often encountered in young adults. It is a known entity peri- and postpartum 3.

The condition is most commonly asymptomatic. Presenting symptoms can include

  • non-specific chest pain 
  • dyspnoea
  • dysphonia
  • subfebrile temperature

Interestingly, possible signs on clinical examination contain Hamman sign, a pulse-synchronous rasping sound which is believed to be caused by pneumopericardium.

Most commonly idiopathic (i.e. cryptogenic) nature. Pathomechanism is barotrauma (see main article: Macklin effect). This accounts for the association of asthma and the peripartum period causing increased intrathoracic pressures.

See main article: pneumomediastinum. In rare cases, pneumorrhachis may be encountered.

The syndrome is named after clinician Louis Virgil Hamman (1877-1946), who described it in 1939 1.

It has to be distinguished from more sinister pathology or entities, e.g. Boerhaave syndrome, as the clinical course of Hamman syndrome is usually benign and self-limiting, and as such management is often conservative 3.

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Article Information

rID: 28961
System: Chest
Section: Syndromes
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Macklin´s syndrome
  • Spontaneous pneumomediastinum
  • Postpartum pneumomediastinum
  • Hamman syndrome

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Cases and Figures

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    Case 1: spontaneous pneumomediastinum (Hamman´s syndrome)
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    Case 2
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