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VOLUME 7 , ISSUE 2 ( May-August, 2015 ) > List of Articles


Subcutaneous Emphysema Secondary to Tonsillectomy

Vivek Sasindran, Vijay Stephen, Lakshana Deve

Keywords : Adult tonsillectomy,Post-tonsillectomy,Subcutaneous emphysema

Citation Information : Sasindran V, Stephen V, Deve L. Subcutaneous Emphysema Secondary to Tonsillectomy. Int J Otorhinolaryngol Clin 2015; 7 (2):78-80.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10003-1194

Published Online: 01-08-2015

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2015; Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers (P) Ltd.



Tonsillectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures performed worldwide. However, it can potentially be associated with several complications. One of the very rare complications post-tonsillectomy in adults is subcutaneous emphysema, as in our case here. Although, most reported cases are resolved spontaneously, it may lead to fatal complications, like tension pneumothorax.

Case report

Tonsillectomy was performed on an adult patient with history of frequent tonsillitis. The patient developed facial subcutaneous emphysema 48 hours after the surgery (evident by clinical and radiological examination) that resolved within 2 days without further complications.


Tonsil should be removed along with tonsilar capsule. If tonsillectomy causes deeper than usual mucosal tear up to the level of the muscles, then air might pass into the subcutaneous tissue through the tonsillar fossa and superior constrictor muscle into fascial layers of neck. Emphysema can then spread to parapharyngeal, retropharyngeal spaces and mediastinum with its related morbidity. Though a rare complication, all otorhinolaryngologists must be aware of this complication and its management.

How to cite this article

Abraham SS, Stephen V, Deve L, Kurien M. Subcutaneous Emphysema Secondary to Tonsillectomy. Int J Otorhinolaryngol Clin 2015;7(2):78-80.

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