Subcutaneous emphysema of the scrotum (pneumoscrotum)

Case contributed by Andrew Murphy


High speed motor bike accident. Extensive subcutaneous emphysema, bilateral pneumothorax, and multiple rib fractures. Intubated and finger thoracostomy at the scene.

Patient Data

Age: 35 years
Gender: Male

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Extensive subcutaneous emphysema as a result of blunt traumatic pneumothorax, gas tracking through the inguinal canal and Scarpa’s fascia, resulting in subcutaneous emphysema of the scrotum, otherwise known as pneumoscrotum. 

Case Discussion

Pneumoscrotum is a rare injury associated with traumatic pneumothorax following blunt trauma 1. Free air migrates inferiorly into the paranephric space, through the retroperitoneum and into inguinal canal 2.

The three common pathways that result in air tracking into the scrotum are:

  1. free air in the abdomen through a patent processus vaginalis
  2. retroperitoneal air into the inguinal canal tracking down the superficial fascia covering the spermatic cord
  3. direct extension of the subcutaneous emphysema of the trunk via the path of least resistance 3.

The clinical significance is relatively low as the associated injuries are of higher importance, and management is often conservative 4.

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Case information

rID: 40533
Published: 25th Oct 2015
Last edited: 29th Aug 2020
System: Urogenital, Chest
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included