Pronounced mediastinal emphysema after restorative treatment of the lower left molar-a case report and a systematic review of the literature

This case report presents an iatrogenic induced mediastinal emphysema after restorative treatment of the lower left second molar, aimed to highlight the potential life-threatening consequences, and providing diagnostics and treatment concepts of complicated dental induced emphysema based on literature review. A 74-year-old female patient was admitted to the emergency department due to a fall on her shoulder. Additional finding was a significant swelling of the face and neck. In the computer tomography of the head, neck, and thorax, a humerus fracture and pronounced soft tissue emphysema from the infraorbital region to the mediastinum was detected. The patient reported that she had been treated by her dentist 4 days earlier. The treatment had to be discontinued after beginning of a pronounced swelling. Other reasons for the emphysema could be excluded out on an interdisciplinary teamwork. The patient was monitored as an inpatient for 5 days and received intravenous antibiotic therapy. This case report shows the rare complication of pronounced mediastinal emphysema after root canal treatment. Emphysema should always be a differential diagnosis of soft tissue swelling and, in case of doubt, a general medical presentation should be made.


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