Subcutaneous emphysema

Subcutaneous emphysema (SCE) refers to emphysema under the skin. It is existent in the subcutaneous skin layer. The condition may also sometimes be referred to as tissue emphysema. Basically, for people with this condition, the subcutaneous skin layer is exposed air or gas. The most common source for this air would be oxygen originating from your chest cavity. This is the reasoning for emphysema that targets body areas between your chest and face.

Emphysema will have physical affects to a patient’s body. They may not be severely noticeable but it will modify the feel of skin where the condition is located on the patient’s body. Subcutaneous emphysema is often said to give a crackling type feeling when touched. This is caused by the air that is trapped in the subcutaneous layer.

Causes of Subcutaneous Emphysema
There are many possible causes for subcutaneous emphysema. Some possible causes of this condition would include penetrating trauma and blunt trauma. A few examples of how this could occur would be getting shot or stabbed in the chest. The condition may also be caused by an infection, medical treatment, and it could possibly be a symptom of other more serious medical conditions as well. Another possible cause for subcutaneous emphysema would be a malfunctioning chest tube. One of the more common causes of this condition though would be pneumothorax.

When this condition occurs there will be an air in your pleural cavity instead of your lungs. This is not usual and it will cause some complications. The major problem will be the likelihood of your lung collapsing. This can result in many health problems and one of those issues would be air getting trapped. Therefore, pneumothorax would lead to the development of subcutaneous emphysema.

Chest Trauma
As mentioned earlier, getting shot or stabbed in the chest area could cause subcutaneous emphysema. This is due to the traumatic damage that is done to your chest which will cause air to get trapped. The air that is usually trapped as a result from chest trauma usually originates from your lung or neck. Trauma to other parts of the body could cause subcutaneous emphysema as well. More than one in four people with fractured ribs develop the condition. Basically, there is an air displacement as a result of the trauma and then the air gets trapped where it should not be.

Signs of Subcutaneous Emphysema
Some of the more common signs of this condition would be crepitus, swelling around the neck, and a sore throat which makes swallowing very difficult. There are other less common symptoms such as unconsciousness and fainting. There are other possible symptoms to this condition as well but they are less noticeable as they often naturally occur or are symptoms of other conditions as well. The symptoms will be less noticeable in the early stages of the condition but will continue to become more noticeable with time. You should speak with your doctor about all the symptoms of this condition if you are attempting a diagnosis.

How to Treat Subcutaneous Emphysema
Once subcutaneous emphysema is diagnosed you will need to start treatment right away. The treatment for this condition is fairly simple and obvious. As there is trapped air which causes the condition it obviously needs to be removed. Treating subcutaneous emphysema is as simple as removing the air bubble.

The treatment procedure for subcutaneous emphysema will need to be done by a professional. If you are diagnosed with subcutaneous emphysema then you should speak with your doctor about the possible treatment methods for you. There are a few ways to go about removing the trapped air and your doctor will know which will be the easiest for you specifically.

Final Thoughts
Subcutaneous emphysema is a serious condition which can be very severe and have serious consequences if left untreated. A quick diagnosis for this condition is very important so the symptoms do not have a serious affect on your health. You should speak with your doctor if you are concerned about your health and believe you may have any form of emphysema.

Your doctor will be able to provide a proper diagnosis and give you treatment advice which will help get rid of the condition quickly if you do have it. The information in this article should give you a general idea on subcutaneous emphysema but you may want to read further details on the subject as there is still a lot to learn. Lastly, any questions should be brought up with a health care professional for the appropriate response no matter how insignificant the question may be.

Last updated on Mar 30th, 2010 and filed under Skin Care. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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