Spontaneous retropharyngeal and mediastinal emphysema

Academic Article


  • A 14-year-old girl with no significant medical history presented at Emergency Department with sore throat and odynophagia after one episode of nonviolent coughing. She denied any respiratory distress, voice change, foreign body ingestion, retching, substance abuse, dental procedures, or trauma. She was afebrile with normal oxygen saturation and physical examination including the head and neck was unremarkable with the exception of bilateral neck crepitus without tenderness on palpation. Fiberoptic laryngoscopy revealed a patent laryngeal airway with normal vocal fold movement. Lateral neck X-ray demonstrated a linear air-column in the retropharyngeal space and computed tomography confirmed emphysema involving the retropharyngeal space and mediastinum with no evidence of fluid collection or abscess formation. Spontaneous retropharyngeal and mediastinal emphysema are clinical entities where free air is present within the confines of retropharyngeal space and mediastinum without obvious cause. It is benign and self-limited in nature and allows for conservative management. This case is presented with a review of literature.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Cho DY; Aaron GP; Shepard KG
  • Start Page

  • 178
  • End Page

  • 181
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 2