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Non-infectious subcutaneous emphysema of the hand: a case report and review of the literature
  1. Tina Constantine1,
  2. Umayya Musharrafieh1,
  3. Abdallah Rammal1,
  4. Sami Moukaiber1,
  5. Rashid Haider2
  1. 1Department of Family Medicine, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon
  2. 2Department of Surgery, Orthopedic Division, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon
  1. Correspondence to Tina Constantine, Department of Family Medicine, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon; tvc00{at}


Subcutaneous emphysema in the hand can result from infectious and non-infectious aetiologies. Adequate history, physical examination, laboratory studies and imaging are needed to delineate the cause, to prevent debilitating consequences and to avoid unnecessary procedures and interventions. In this case report, an 18-year-old man sustained a trauma to the dorsum of the hand after a fist fight, without any penetrating objects, that resulted in instantaneous non-infectious subcutaneous emphysema which resolved with conservative management. A literature review of cases of non-infectious subcutaneous emphysema is presented here with an overview of the mechanism of injury, as well as the course and management. Certain criteria are also outlined to help differentiate between infectious and non-infectious emphysema, which include laboratory studies, imaging, timing and clinical symptoms.

  • Non-infectious emphysema
  • trauma
  • upper extremity necrotising fasciitis

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the American University of Beirut Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.