Pneumomediastinum after lung packing

Undersea Hyperb Med. Sep-Oct 2006;33(5):313-6.


Lung packing (glossopharyngeal insufflation) consists of forcing air into the lungs, using glossopharyngeal muscle contractions similar to swallowing. Breath-hold divers perform this technique after a maximal inhalation prior to diving, thus increasing initial lung volume. However, as suggested by previous authors, this breathing maneuver could theoretically lead to lung rupture. Here we report a pneumomediastinum found on chest CT scan in a diver during a physiological study, when glossopharyngeal insufflation increased the volume of gas in the lungs by 1,040 ml (over his total lung capacity); at the same time, his transpulmonary pressures increased up to 4.1 kPa. We discuss the possibility that the very high transpulmonary pressures during lung packing caused this pneumomediastinum.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diving* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Insufflation / adverse effects*
  • Insufflation / methods
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Emphysema / diagnostic imaging
  • Mediastinal Emphysema / etiology*
  • Radiography