Atraumatic pneumocephalus: A case report and review of the literature

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Pneumocephalus or air within the cranial vault is usually associated with disruption of the skull caused by head trauma, neoplasms, or after craniofacial surgical interventions. We report a child who presented with headache and the pathognomonic “succussion splash” and was found to have atraumatic pneumocephalus from forceful valsalva maneuvers. Pneumocephalus forms, caused by either a ball-valve mechanism that allows air to enter but not exit the cranial vault, or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks, which create a negative pressure with subsequent air entry. We review the literature for traumatic and atraumatic causes of pneumocephalus, its complications, and therapy.

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