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Invited Commentary
August 2015

Pneumomediastinum Following Blunt Trauma: Are We Closer to Unlocking Its Significance?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harbor-UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) Medical Center, Division of Vascular Surgery, Torrance, California
  • 2Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Trauma Surgery, Torrance, California
JAMA Surg. 2015;150(8):762-763. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2015.1146

The discovery of pneumomediastinum following blunt trauma is a source of great consternation for trauma surgeons because pneumomediastinum comes in 2 forms: the one that you do not have to worry about and the other that is really bad and that you do need to worry about. Fortunately, most cases are the former. Nevertheless, to date, there are no distinguishing features on a computed tomographic scan that can help one to decipher whether the pneumomediastinum is concerning and justifies a myriad of diagnostic studies and close observation in the intensive care unit, or whether the pneumomediastinum is a benign, incidental finding.

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