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24 July 2020 : Case report  USA

Spontaneous Subcutaneous Emphysema and Pneumomediastinum in COVID-19 Patients: An Indicator of Poor Prognosis?

Management of emergency care, Rare coexistence of disease or pathology

Mohammed Al-Azzawi1ABEF, Steven Douedi1ABEF*, Abbas Alshami1ABEF, Ghadier Al-Saoudi2ABF, John Mikhail2ABF

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.925557

Am J Case Rep 2020; 21:e925557

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has been in the spotlight since the first cases were reported in December 2019. COVID-19 has been found to cause severe acute respiratory distress syndrome and, more uncommonly, subcutaneous emphysema and pneumomediastinum. We present a case series of 3 patients with COVID-19 infection managed in the Intensive Care Unit and found to have subcutaneous emphysema and pneumomediastinum on chest imaging.

CASE REPORT: We present a case series of 3 men, ages 36, 47, and 78 years, diagnosed with COVID-19 via RT-PCR, found to have severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, and managed in the Intensive Care Unit. Two patients described in this case series were mechanically ventilated on low positive end-expiratory pressures and developed subcutaneous emphysema and pneumomediastinum on chest imaging, and 1 patient developed subcutaneous emphysema prior to intubation. Each of these patients had a more eventful hospital course and worse outcomes than most COVID-19 infected patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Subcutaneous emphysema and pneumomediastinum in COVID-19 patients have been rarely reported and is poorly understood. In our institution, we have found the diagnosis of subcutaneous emphysema and pneumomediastinum in COVID-19 patients is associated with unfavorable outcomes and worse prognosis.

Keywords: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Pneumomediastinum, Diagnostic, Subcutaneous Emphysema

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American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923
American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923