J Rhinol.  2012 May;19(1):63-66.

Cervicofacial Emphysema and Pneumomediastinum Following Pediatric Adenotonsillectomy

  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, School of Medicine, University of Konkuk, Chungju, Korea. hiyums@hanmail.net
  • 2Department of Anethesiology and pain medicine, School of Medicine, University of Konkuk, Chungju, Korea.


Many patients regard tonsillectomy as a minor operation because it is performed frequently. Although tonsillectomy is considered a relatively safe surgical procedure, numerous complications have been described. The common complications are hemorrhage, infection, and following anesthesia, aspiration, cardiac arrhythmia, and laryngeal trauma. Cervicofacial emphysema and pneumomediastinum are rarely observed sequelae of surgical intervention in the upper aerodigestive tract. Although these complications resolve spontaneously in most cases, a few cases result in tension pneumothorax and other life-threatening conditions. Symptoms include chest pain, neck pain, dyspnea and odynophagia. Treatment involves frequent assessment of the airway and extent of the emphysema. The authors of the present study report of a patient who developed pneumomediastinum shortly after an adenotonsillectomy as well as a review of the related literature.


Tonsillectomy; Subcutaneous Emphysema; Pneumomediastinum
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