Pneumomediastinum and pneumopericardium as rare complications after retroperitoneal transpsoas lateral lumbar interbody fusion surgery: A case report

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Rationale:Pneumomediastinum and pneumopericardium refer to conditions in which air exists within the mediastinum and pericardium, respectively. There is the communication between the mediastinum, pericardium, and retroperitoneum. We present the first report of rare complications (pneumomediastinum and pneumopericardium) after retroperitoneal transpsoas lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) surgery.Patient concerns:A 73-year-old female who underwent LLIF using the retroperitoneal approach complained of dysphagia but no other abnormal symptom after surgery.Diagnosis and interventions:A plain chest radiograph (CXR) taken immediately the following surgery did not show any unusual findings but CXR took on postoperative day (POD) 1 indicated pneumopericardium and pneumomediastinum with abnormal air density along the pericardium and mediastinum with subdiaphragmatic air density. A chest computed tomography revealed bilateral pleural effusion and abnormal air density (pneumopericardium and pneumomediastinum) connected to a large amount of air around the aorta and retroperitoneal space (pneumoretroperitoneum).Outcomes:The patient complained of no unusual symptom and the CXR on POD 6 indicated that no air density surrounding the mediastinum and pericardium was found.Lessons:Pneumomediastinum and pneumopericardium should be considered possible complications of LLIF using retroperitoneal transpsoas approach. Such a condition may progress to fatal conditions without early recognition and rapid management.

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