July 1967

Pneumomediastinum and Pneumothorax Complicating Asthma in Children

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics, The King County Hospital and Children's Orthopedic Hospital and Medical Center, and Division of Allergy, Department of Medicine and Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle.

Am J Dis Child. 1967;114(1):42-50. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1967.02090220048008

THOUGH first recognized by Laennec1 in 1819, and first noted as a complication of childhood asthma in 1850,2 only 20 cases of pneumomediastinum or pneumothorax, or both, complicating acute asthma in children were reported in the world medical literature by 1960.3 Subsequent papers by McGovern et al,3 Jorgenson et al,4 Ozonoff,5 and others6,7 suggest that these conditions complicate childhood asthmatic attacks far more often than had hitherto been suspected. Between 1959 and 1966, 16 asthmatic children in the Pacific Northwest have experienced 20 complications of such extra-pulmonary air. This paper examines clinical manifestations, pathophysiology, treatment, and prognosis of these complications in children.

Materials and Methods  Between January 1959 and April 1966, 12 children with 15 acute attacks of asthma complicated by pneumomediastinum or pneumothorax were treated at the King County Hospital, the Children's Orthopedic Hospital and Medical Center, and the University Hospital in

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