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01.12.2014 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

Journal of Medical Case Reports 1/2014

Postpartum woman with pneumomediastinum and reverse (inverted) takotsubo cardiomyopathy: a case report

Journal of Medical Case Reports > Ausgabe 1/2014
Sebastian Niko Nagel, Michael Deutschmann, Eric Lopatta, Michael Lichtenauer, Ulf Karl Martin Teichgräber
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1752-1947-8-89) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

SN analyzed and interpreted the patient data. He was the major contributor in writing the manuscript. MD and EL confirmed the radiological image evaluation and proofread the manuscript. ML supplied images of the cardiac catheterization as well as the echocardiography and provided cardiologic knowledge about the patient. UT was involved in writing and proofreading the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Pneumomediastinum is known to occur during labor. Patients typically present with chest pain and symptoms may be suspicious, for example of pulmonary embolism or aortic dissection. The condition itself, however, is rather harmless and self-limiting.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is associated with psychologically or physiologically stressful events and its symptoms mimic myocardial infarction. Yet, symptoms often improve quickly as the initially impaired cardiac function is usually restored within days or weeks.
Although the initial presentation of the patient in this case report was dramatic, the clinical course was positive and the patient could be quickly dismissed in a good general condition. To the best of our knowledge, no presentation of a combined occurrence of postpartum pneumomediastinum and reverse (inverted) takotsubo cardiomyopathy exists.

Case presentation

We present the case of a 30-year-old Caucasian woman with sudden onset of thoracic back and chest pain approximately 24 hours after an otherwise unremarkable vaginal delivery. A contrast-enhanced chest computed tomography showed cervical and mediastinal emphysema without proof for pulmonary embolism or aortic dissection. She received a symptomatic analgesic treatment and was dismissed to the obstetrics department for monitoring.
Within hours, slightly increased levels of troponin I were observed without corresponding electrocardiography changes. Immediate cardiac catheterization and a cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (performed within 24 hours) revealed basal to midventricular hypokinesia, but were otherwise unremarkable. A low-dose treatment for congestive heart failure was initiated, under which symptoms subsided within days. She was dismissed after 12 days in a good general condition.


Although the clinical presentation of the combination of the diseases initially was dramatic, the prognosis is positive. In the context of the preceding delivery, knowledge about the postpartum pneumomediastinum lets the radiologist of the emergency department quickly make this diagnosis. The takotsubo cardiomyopathy, however, needs broader diagnostics to not miss intervention-requiring causes.

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