Pneumomediastinum is a rare but potential complication of laparoscopy that is related to insufflation with carbon dioxide gas and may lead to life-threatening complications.
A 76-year-old woman underwent robotic sacrocolpopexy to repair posthysterectomy prolapse without any apparent intraoperative complications. Postoperatively, she developed shortness of breath and tachycardia and was found to have subcutaneous emphysema and pneumomediastinum.
Pelvic surgeons should understand the risks associated with development of pneumomediastinum as well as associated signs and symptoms. In our case, pneumomediastinum likely developed as carbon dioxide tracked from the peritoneum into the mediastinum during prolonged robotic retroperitoneal surgery. Surgeons should have a low threshold to obtain radiographic tests in the early postoperative period, as close monitoring is essential to manage potentially life-threatening complications such as pneumothorax and cardiac arrest.