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      Pneumothorax, Pneumomediastinum, Pneumoperitoneum and Surgical Emphysema in Mechanically Ventilated Patients

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          A 29 year old male patient of Indian ancestry was admitted to an outside hospital with rapid deterioration of his level of consciousness. The patient required mechanical ventilation and transfer to MICU at Hamad Medical Corporation. The patient remained hypoxic. Chest X-ray, CT of chest, abdomen, pelvis and proximal areas of both lower limbs were performed. Pneumomediastinum, pneumoperitoneum, and extensive surgical emphysema were the diagnoses.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Subcutaneous and mediastinal emphysema. Pathophysiology, diagnosis, and management.

          Subcutaneous emphysema and pneumomediastinum occur frequently in critically ill patients in association with blunt or penetrating trauma, soft-tissue infections, or any condition that creates a gradient between intra-alveolar and perivascular interstitial pressures. A continuum of fascial planes connects cervical soft tissues with the medlastinum and retroperitoneum, permitting aberrant air arising in any one of these areas to spread elsewhere. Diagnosis is made in the appropriate clinical setting by careful physical examination and inspection of the chest roentgenogram. While the presence of air in subcutaneous or mediastinal tissue is not dangerous in itself, prompt recognition of the underlying cause is essential. Certain trauma-related causes may require surgical intervention, but the routine use of chest tubes tracheostomy, or mediastinal drains is not recommended.
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            Incidence, risk factors and outcome of barotrauma in mechanically ventilated patients.

            To determine the incidence, risk factors, and outcome of barotrauma in a cohort of mechanically ventilated patients where limited tidal volumes and airway pressures were used. Prospective cohort of 361 intensive care units from 20 countries. A total of 5183 patients mechanically ventilated for more than 12 h. Baseline demographic data, primary indication for mechanical ventilation, daily ventilator settings, multiple-organ failure over the course of mechanical ventilation and outcome were collected. Barotrauma was present in 154 patients (2.9%). The incidence varied according to the reason for mechanical ventilation: 2.9% of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; 6.3% of patients with asthma; 10.0% of patients with chronic interstitial lung disease (ILD); 6.5% of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS); and 4.2% of patients with pneumonia. Patients with and without barotrauma did not differ in any ventilator parameter. Logistic regression analysis identified as factors independently associated with barotrauma: asthma [RR 2.58 (1.05-6.50)], ILD [RR 4.23 (95%CI 1.78-10.03)]; ARDS as primary reason for mechanical ventilation [RR 2.70 (95%CI 1.55-4.70)]; and ARDS as a complication during the course of mechanical ventilation [RR 2.53 (95%CI 1.40-4.57)]. Case-control analysis showed increased mortality in patients with barotrauma (51.4 vs 39.2%; p=0.04) and prolonged ICU stay. In a cohort of patients in whom airway pressures and tidal volume are limited, barotrauma is more likely in patients ventilated due to underlying lung disease (acute or chronic). Barotrauma was also associated with a significant increase in the ICU length of stay and mortality.
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              Incidence of pulmonary barotrauma in a medical ICU.

               H Baier,  G Petersen (1983)
              One hundred seventy-one patients admitted to a Medical ICU and who received treatment for respiratory failure with mechanical ventilation were studied for the development of pulmonary barotrauma (PBT) as manifested by pneumomediastinum, subcutaneous emphysema, or pneumothorax. Fourteen patients (8%; group A) developed this complication; they were younger, had higher maximal peak inspiratory airway pressures (PIP); and higher levels of maximal PEEP. We conclude that for medical patients treated for respiratory failure with mechanical ventilation, the incidence of PBT is 8% and that younger age, higher levels of PIP and PEEP seem to pose an increased risk for developing PBT.

                Author and article information

                Libyan J Med
                The Libyan Journal of Medicine
                CoAction Publishing
                01 June 2008
                : 3
                : 2
                : 104-105
                Hamad Medical Corporation, Medical ICU, Qatar

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Case Report


                pneumomediastinum, surgical emphysema, barotrauma, mechanical ventilation, pneumoperitoneum


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