Successful non-operative management of extensive pneumomedia- stinum and pneumoperitoneum


Successful non-operative management of extensive pneumomediastinum and pneumoperitoneum


Dylan Johnson, MD1*; Stephan Jones, MD1; Subhasis Misra, MD, FACS1

1Brandon Regional Hospital, HCA Healthcare/USF Morsani College of Medicine Graduate Medical Education, Department of Surgery, Brandon, FL 33511


International-Journal-of-Case-Reports-2d code

Background: A 70 year old male presented with acute left flank pain and was found to have extensive free air in both the mediastinal and peritoneal cavities. He was managed successfully without surgery.

Case: A 70 year old male presented with left flank pain that began an hour prior to arrival. He had a history of obstructive sleep apnea that had been treated with continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) at home for many years. His vital signs, physical exam, and laboratory testing were all unremarkable. However, imaging findings were impressive for massive pneumoperitoneum and pneumomediastinum. Given his clinical stability, operative exploration was deferred, and he was admitted for observation and bowel rest. He was discharged less than 48 hours after admission without incident. His history of home CPAP therapy was the only attributable cause for the ominous findings seen on his imaging. Recognizing that this was a case of benign free air saved this patient from the morbidity and potential for death that comes with an unnecessary operative exploration.

Conclusion: Continuous positive airway pressure therapy can result in benign free air within the mediastinal and peritoneal cavities. Evaluating the complete clinical scenario will allow for recognition of similar cases in which these grim findings are not indicative of surgical disease, thus avoiding the iatrogenesis of unnecessary surgery.


Keywords: Benign; Pneumomediastinum; Pneumoperitoneum; Primary


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How to cite this article:

Dylan Johnson, Stephan Jones, Subhasis Misra. Successful non-operative management of extensive pneumomediastinum and pneumoperitoneum. International Journal of Case Reports, 2020; 4:171. DOI: 10.28933/ijcr-2020-10-0705


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