Subcutaneous emphysema, pneumomediastinum, and potentially life- threatening tension pneumothorax: Pulmonary complications from arthroscopic shoulder decompression

H. C. Lee, N. Dewan, Lynn A Crosby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


Subcutaneous emphysema, pneumomediastinum, and tension pneumothorax are previously unreported complications of shoulder arthroscopy with subacromial decompression. Three patients developed extensive subcutaneous emphysema, pneumomediastinum, and bilateral tension pneumothorax during or immediately after shoulder arthroscopy with subacromial decompression. The procedure was terminated and appropriate treatment was given. All three patients recovered completely with no residual damage. The complications are thought to be associated with the extravasation of air that may be drawn in from the lateral portal when the arthroscopic infusion pump and power shaver with suction are turned on. Early diagnosis, followed by immediate termination of the infusion pump and suction shaver along with appropriate treatment can be life-saving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1265-1267
Number of pages3
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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