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Spontaneous intraparenchymal tension pneumocephalus triggered by compulsive forceful nose blowing
  1. G Mirone,
  2. M Rotondo,
  3. A Scuotto,
  4. A Bocchetti,
  5. R D’Avanzo,
  6. M Natale,
  7. A Moraci
  1. Department of Neurological Sciences, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr G Mirone, Neurosurgery, Department of Neurological Sciences, Second University of Naples, CTO Hospital, Viale Colli Aminei, 21, 80131 Naples, Italy; peppemirone{at}


The case is described of a 50-year-old man, treated for 10 years in an outpatient psychiatric clinic for an obsessive compulsive disorder, who presented with acute loss of consciousness after forceful nose blowing. A CT scan revealed an intraparenchymal air collection with tension signs in the left frontal lobe and a bone defect in the roof of the ethmoid sinus. After emergency left frontal craniotomy and dura opening, the gaseous collection was evacuated by a ventricular catheter inserted into the brain and the bone defect was repaired with pericranium flap and muscle. The postoperative course was uneventful with neurocognitive improvement and regained motility. Spontaneous tension pneumocephalus is a rare life-threatening condition which is often caused by a bone defect near the tegmen tympani. This case illustrates both an unusual cause and a unique surgical treatment for spontaneous tension intraparenchymal pneumocephalus. It can be a dangerous entity with potential for early mortality and long-term morbidity if not promptly decompressed. The pathogenesis, diagnosis and surgical strategies for spontaneous tension pneumocephalus are briefly discussed.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.