Surgical emphysema (summary)

Dr Henry Knipe and Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

Surgical emphysema (or subcutaneous emphysema) occurs when air/gas is located in the subcutaneous tissues (the layer under the skin). This usually occurs in the chest, face or neck.

Reference article

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

Summary

  • pathophysiology
    • gas within the soft tissues
    • causes
      • tracheobronchial perforation with gas tracking
      • penetrating trauma
  • radiographic features
    • chest x-ray
      • gas within the soft tissues
      • easy to see in the neck and upper chest
      • may have a strange appearance with overlying structures
    • CT chest
      • much more readily demonstrated on a CT
      • pockets of air located seen as dark areas located in the subcutaneous space of the affected tissues​
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Article information

rID: 31298
System: Chest
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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Cases and figures

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    Case 1: surgical emphysema
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    Case 2: post-traumatic surgical emphysema
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    Case 3: spontaneous air everywhere
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