Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: Cureus
Spontaneous pneumomediastinum (SPM), also referred to as mediastinal emphysema, is defined as the presence of free air in the mediastinal cavity without a clear and identifiable cause. Spontaneous pneumomediastinum, in general, is a relatively rare condition, more so in the setting of pregnancy or labor. Clinically, SPM may present as dyspnea, chest pain, and subcutaneous swelling, which may be of serious concern in the setting of pregnancy. A comprehensive literature review revealed that the majority of patients are primiparas, of a younger age, and have term or longer durations of pregnancy. The second stage of labor was found to be most commonly associated with the development of SPM. The pathomechanism suggests that performing the Valsalva maneuver during the active stages of labor may play a role in the development of SPM. Once diagnosed, patients with SPM in pregnancy are admitted to the hospital, treated conservatively, and followed until resolution. SPM must be diagnosed and managed promptly due to rare but serious complications. In addition, dyspnea or chest pain with an unknown etiology should include SPM in the differential diagnosis, especially in the setting of pregnancy and labor.