Subcutaneous and retropharyngeal emphysema following dental restoration: an uncommon complication

Ann Emerg Med. 1982 Jul;11(7):371-4. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(82)80367-3.


A case of subcutaneous and retropharyngeal emphysema following a dental restoration is presented. The patient complained of swelling, tenderness, and a "crackling feeling" of her right face and neck, as well as pain in the back of her throat. Radiographs confirmed the diagnosis of interstitial air emphysema. The etiology of this unusual complication was the compressed air used in modern dental drills and syringes. Treatment consists of reassurance, observation, and prophylactic antibiotics. [Bavinger JV: Subcutaneous and retropharyngeal emphysema following dental restoration.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Dental Restoration, Permanent*
  • Emphysema / diagnostic imaging
  • Emphysema / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharynx
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Radiography
  • Subcutaneous Emphysema / diagnostic imaging
  • Subcutaneous Emphysema / etiology*