Pneumocephalus Following Air Travel in a Patient With Preexisting Facial Fractures and Dural Tears

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Abstract

Changes in cabin pressure can potentially cause expansion of any preexisting intracranial air resulting in tension pneumocephalus. The authors describe a 28-year-old man, who was involved in a motor vehicle accident complicated by multiple facial fractures and a dural tear while on his way to the airport. Instead of seeking medical attention after the accident, he proceeded with a 2-hour commercial flight. He did not suffer from any neurologic deterioration inflight, but upon presentation to our center, a computed tomography scan was done which revealed extensive pneumocephalus, for which he required intensive monitoring and subsequent surgery. Controversy still exists regarding whether it is safe to travel by air in patients with intracranial air. It is hoped that this patient will add to the discussion regarding the safety for air travel in patients with traumatic pneumocephalus.

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