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Air Within the Spinal Canal in Spontaneous Pneumomediastinum

Eva A. Belotti, MD; Mattia Rizzi, MD; Paola Rodoni-Cassis, MD; Monica Ragazzi, MD; Maura Zanolari-Caledrerari, MD; Mario G. Bianchetti, MD
Author and Funding Information

From the Division of Pediatrics (Drs Belotti, Rizzi, Ragazzi, Zanolari-Caledrerari, and Bianchetti), Ospedale Mendrisio and Bellinzona, and University of Bern, Bern; and the Division of Diagnostic Imaging (Dr Rodoni-Cassis), Ospedale Mendrisio, Mendrisio, Switzerland.

Correspondence to: Mario G. Bianchetti, MD, Division of Pediatrics, San Giovanni Hospital, 6500 Bellinzona, Switzerland; e-mail: mario.bianchetti@pediatrician.ch


Drs Belotti and Rizzi contributed equally to this work.

Dr Rizzi is currently at the Department of Pediatrics, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, and University of Bern, Switzerland.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2010 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2010;137(5):1197-1200. doi:10.1378/chest.09-0514
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Spontaneous pneumomediastinum is an uncommon benign condition that is occasionally associated with air within the spinal canal. We describe a further case in a 14-year-old girl and suggest a classification system based on a detailed review of the previous literature. Forty-eight patients with spontaneous pneumomediastinum and intraspinal air accumulation (36 men and 12 women, age range 4-72 years, median age 18 years) were grouped into those with underlying lung disease (n = 13), those with other underlying etiologic factors (n = 22), and those arising spontaneously (n = 13). Neurologic symptoms or signs were noted in one case. The remaining cases were successfully managed conservatively. In spontaneous pneumomediastinum, accumulation of air within the spinal canal is self-limiting and benign. The same management is advised in spontaneous pneumomediastinum with and without intraspinal air accumulation.

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