The causes and
treatments for subcutaneous emphysema.
Subcutaneous emphysema varies greatly from other forms of emphysema in a variety of
different ways. It is not typically caused by smoking and it is treated in a
completely different fashion from standard emphysema. Though it is rare,
subcutaneous emphysema is a dangerous condition that requires immediate medical
and cause of subcutaneous Emphysema
When air gets
under the skin of the neck or chest subcutaneous emphysema can occur. Typically
this is caused by some type of trauma like a gun shot, stab wound or blunt
force injury. Collapsed lungs, ruptured esophagus and ruptured bronchial tubes
also can contribute to the development of subcutaneous emphysema. This
condition can also occur when a patient in critical condition is intubated to
aid their breathing.
emphysema can also appear on other parts of the body as a result of severe
bacterial infections and gas gangrene.
Treatments of Subcutaneous Emphysema
Often when a
person is experiencing subcutaneous emphysema they will see a bulging of the
skin on their chest or neck. When probed
carefully by a health care worker a subcutaneous emphysema bulge will make an
odd noise. This condition may also cause
pain, difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, coughing, difficulty swallowing
and reduced breath sounds.
To treat this
condition doctors often recommend constant bed rest along with careful
observation. They may also perform a battery of other tests to rule out other
injuries, complications and a condition called arterial gas embolism. These two
conditions often go hand and hand, so it is important that this is ruled out
before preceding with care. Subcutaneous
emphysema is not a chronic condition and with proper care it can be resolved.
When subcutaneous emphysema is caused by pneumothorax or a collection of air or gas in the
surrounding area around the lungs, the care required is different then that of
other types. Lung diseases caused by
smoking like COPD can cause a pneumothorax. Asthma, cystic fibrosis, TB,
whooping cough and trauma to the chest can all cause this condition as well.
The symptoms of subcutaneous emphysema
caused by pneumothorax are chest pain, chest tightness, fatigue, rapid heart
rate, shortness of breath and blue skin caused by a lack of oxygen.
Although some may
go away on their own others require removal of the build up of air in the chest
cavity. Doctors use a chest tube, placed in the chest wall between the ribs.
This allows the patients lungs to expand and fill with oxygen. Depending on the
severity of the problem, the chest tube will either be removed right away or be
left in for several days.
all issues surrounding subcutaneous emphysema or a pnuemothorax are resolved
most patients will make a complete recovery. Typically, no long term
complications will result from either of these conditions. However, both of
these conditions are severely life threatening and if you suspect that you have
developed either you should seek emergency medical assistance immediately.