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Skin layers
Skin layers


Definition:

Subcutaneous emphysema occurs when air gets into tissues under the skin covering the chest wall or neck.



Alternative Names:

Crepitus; Subcutaneous air; Tissue emphysema



Considerations:

Subcutaneous emphysema can often be seen as a smooth bulging of the skin. When a health care provider feels (palpates) the skin, it produces an unusual crackling sensation as the gas is pushed through the tissue.



Common Causes:

This is a rare condition. When it does occur, possible causes include:

  • Collapsed lung (pneumothorax ), often occurring with a rib fracture
  • Facial bone fracture
  • Ruptured bronchial tube
  • Ruptured esophagus

This condition can happen due to:

  • Blunt trauma
  • Gun shot wounds
  • Stabbing

Air can also be found in between skin layers on the arms and legs or torso during certain infections, including gas gangrene .



Home Care:



Call your health care provider if:

Most of the conditions that cause subcutaneous emphysema are very severe. Sometimes a hospital stay is needed. Medical staff should already be involved in most cases.



What to expect at your health care provider's office:




Review Date: 10/13/2008
Reviewed By: John E. Duldner, Jr., MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Director of Research, Department of Emergency Medicine, Akron General Medical Center and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100