Pneumorrhacis. What?

February 4, 2013

Chest, CT, Spine, Trauma

I admire radiologists for their medical vocabulary.  I was sent some images from one of my colleagues the other day demonstrating “pneumorrhacis.”  Being a simple minded ER doc, I had to look it up.


Pneumorrhacis:  air in the intra or extra dural space (1).  For a good, concise summary of this rare phenomena see


This patient was a trauma patient with a pneumothorax as the source of the air.  You can see on the CT there is air everywhere!  Its basically dissecting fasical planes in the neck, chest, and abdominal wall in addition to the extradural space.

Here is a brief review article discussing pneumorrhacis from the European Spine Journal (2).  It is available on PubMed for free download or from this link:

Pneumorrhacis article

Author:  Russell Jones, MD

Image Contributor:  Steve Glocke, MD


1.  Pneumorrhacis.

2.  Oertel MF, Kornith MC, Reinges MH, et al.  Pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management of pneumorrhacis.  Eur Spine J (2006) 15 (Suppl. 5):S636–S643

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EMREMS: Radiology in Emergency Medicine

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