Alternate Names : Mediastinal emphysema
Often, no treatment is needed because the body will gradually absorb the air itself. Breathing high concentrations of oxygen may speed up this process.
The doctor may put in a chest tube if the condition is accompanied by a collapsed lung (pneumothorax). Surgery is needed to repair a hole in the trachea or esophagus.
The outlook depends on the disease or events that caused the pneumomediastinum.
The air may build up and enter the space around the lungs (pleural space), causing the lung to collapse.
More rarely, air may enter the area between the heart and the thin sac that surrounds the heart. This is called a pneumopericardium.
In other rare cases, so much air builds up in the middle of the chest that it pushes on veins in the area. This can interfere with the heart's ability to pump, and leads to low blood pressure.
All these complications require urgent attention.
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have severe chest pain or difficulty breathing.