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Pneumomediastinum and Pneumothorax Complicating Asthma in Children

C. Warren Bierman, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1967;114(1):42-50. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1967.02090220048008.
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THOUGH first recognized by Laennec1 in 1819, and first noted as a complication of childhood asthma in 1850,2 only 20 cases of pneumomediastinum or pneumothorax, or both, complicating acute asthma in children were reported in the world medical literature by 1960.3 Subsequent papers by McGovern et al,3 Jorgenson et al,4 Ozonoff,5 and others6,7 suggest that these conditions complicate childhood asthmatic attacks far more often than had hitherto been suspected. Between 1959 and 1966, 16 asthmatic children in the Pacific Northwest have experienced 20 complications of such extra-pulmonary air. This paper examines clinical manifestations, pathophysiology, treatment, and prognosis of these complications in children.

Materials and Methods  Between January 1959 and April 1966, 12 children with 15 acute attacks of asthma complicated by pneumomediastinum or pneumothorax were treated at the King County Hospital, the Children's Orthopedic Hospital and Medical Center, and the University Hospital in


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