Pneumothorax from TASER

Case contributed by Jayanth Keshavamurthy
Diagnosis certain


This man was belligerent and so police used TASER. A patient brought to the emergency room with confusion.

Patient Data

Age: 35-40 years
Gender: Male

Moderate left pneumothorax and no soft tissue injury or subcutaneous emphysema. No rib fracture or pneumomediastinum.

Annotated image

Blue line and arrows highlighting pleural reflection and delineating the pneumothorax. 

48 hours later


No change in pneumothorax 48 hours later.


There is resolution of the left pneumothorax after chest tube placement.

Case Discussion

Even if there are no rib fractures, patients who have undergone TASER are prone for Valsalva-induced pneumothorax.

So careful attention is needed for pneumothorax/pneumomediastinum evaluation on chest radiographs if a history of TASER use is provided.

The patient was treated successfully with a chest tube and went home a few days later without any further complications.

Anesthesia and other branches of medicine are more aware of Valsalva-induced pneumothorax than radiology.

With increasing use of TASER by law enforcement radiologists and ER physicians need to be aware of where the barb went, and if there is shortness of breath to get a chest radiograph.

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