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Subcutaneous Emphysema in Cancer of the Colon

Arch Surg. 1962;85(2):344-347. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1962.01310020174031.
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It is not unusual after abdominal surgery to observe a crepitation in the subcutaneous tissues due to the entrapment of air in the wound during closure or possibly to the leakage of air introduced into the abdominal cavity during laparotomy. This type of subcutaneous emphysema is observed soon after operation and disappears within a few days without any ill effects. Rarely, air from within the gastrointestinal tract may enter the subcutaneous space and produce a subcutaneous emphysema which is more significant, indicating as it does a leakage from a break in the viscus. The occurrence of this type of emphysema was studied in 1955 by Oetting, Kramer, and Branch1 who reviewed the literature and described 2 personally observed cases. These authors found a total of 34 previously recorded instances, 3 of which were in cases of cancer of the colon. The most common causes were mechanical trauma and perforated


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