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December 1958

Subcutaneous Emphysema: A Complication of Tonsillectomy

Author Affiliations


AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1958;68(6):697-699. doi:10.1001/archotol.1958.00730020721006

Subcutaneous emphysema is an uncommon but not a rare complication of tonsillectomy. Since 1910, when Parish1 first described this condition, it has recurred periodically in the literature. I found a total of 22 reported cases. The following report is presented to bring attention to this alarming but rarely dangerous condition.

Report of a Case  An 8-year-old white girl was admitted Jan. 1, 1958, to Minneapolis General Hospital with a history of recurrent tonsillitis and otitis media for the past four years. Physical examination revealed small scarred tonsils and slight pharyngeal erythema. The left tympanic membrane showed scarring, and auditory acuity on the left was moderately diminished. Multiple shotty cervical nodes were present. The remainder of the examination was unremarkable.On Jan. 2, 1958, under general anesthesia with use of thiopental induction, nitrous oxide and oxygen, tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy were performed. The tonsils were removed by dissection, and no significant

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