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Case Reports in Anesthesiology
Volume 2017, Article ID 8206970, 5 pages
Case Report

Pneumomediastinum and Bilateral Pneumothoraces Causing Respiratory Failure after Thyroid Surgery

1Anesthesiology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany
2Anesthesiology, University of Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Tobias Eckle; ude.revnedcu@elkce.saibot

Received 26 December 2016; Accepted 18 April 2017; Published 24 April 2017

Academic Editor: Audun Stubhaug

Copyright © 2017 Michael Koeppen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We report the first case of severe respiratory failure after thyroid surgery requiring venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (vvECMO). The patient was a 41-year-old woman with metastatic thyroid cancer. She underwent thyroidectomy, including left lateral and bilateral central neck dissection. During surgery, the patient developed pneumomediastinum with bilateral pneumothoraces. Despite early treatment with bilateral chest tubes and no evidence of a tracheal perforation, the patient developed severe respiratory failure after extubation on the intensive care unit. Because pneumothorax and pneumomediastinum might be more common than reported, and considering increasing cases of thyroid surgery, staff should remain vigilant of pulmonary complications after thyroid surgery.