Air within the spinal canal in spontaneous pneumomediastinum

Chest. 2010 May;137(5):1197-200. doi: 10.1378/chest.09-0514.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Emphysema / classification*
  • Mediastinal Emphysema / etiology
  • Mediastinal Emphysema / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Spinal Canal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Young Adult