Pneumomediastinum (summary)

Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

Pneumomediastinum describes air/gas within the mediastinum and is readily demonstrated on CT and may be seen on a chest radiograph.

Reference article

This is a summary article; read more in our article on pneumomediastinum.

  • pathophysiology
    • gas within the mediastinum
    • causes
      • tracheobronchial perforation with gas tracking
      • perforation of oesophagus
      • penetrating trauma
  • investigation
    • chest x-ray
      • gas outlines the mediastinal structures
      • may be difficult to see on a chest x-ray
    • CT chest
      • much more readily demonstrated on a CT
Plain radiograph

Air can be seen as a radiolucent outline of the structures in the mediastinum, including the great vessels, thymus and tracheal/bronchial wall. 

Medical student radiology curriculum
Share article

Article Information

rID: 31401
System: Chest
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and Figures

  • Drag
    Case 1: pneumomediastinum
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Frontal radiograph.
    Case 2: pneumomediastinum and subcutanous emphysema
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 3: pneumomediastinum on CT
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.