Retropharyngeal hematoma presenting airway obstruction: A case report

Atsuyoshi Iida, Ayumi Nishida, Seiji Yoshitomi, Tsuyoshi Nojima, Hiromichi Naito, Atsunori Nakao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Blunt neck trauma patients can suffer from an airway emergency and are necessary to careful observation. Presentation of case: A 79-year-old man under anticoagulation therapy presented to our hospital three hours after a fall. Shortly after arrival, he developed dyspnea. Oral intubation was attempted, but with no success; therefore, an emergency tracheotomy was performed. Contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) and subsequent angiography revealed active bleeding from a branch of the right ascending cervical artery. Subsequently, the right thyrocervical trunk, which is upstream from the ascending cervical artery, was embolized and hemostasis was achieved. He was discharged 52 days after the emergency admission. Discussion: This is the first case report of an ascending cervical artery injury due to blunt trauma that resulted in an airway emergency. Contrast-enhanced CT and cervical angiography are useful for confirming the area of injury and size of the hematoma. Half of patients with respiratory distress accompanied by a cervical spine injury require definitive airway management within five hours of the injury and all by 24 h. Neck trauma can lead to fatal airway obstruction and careful monitoring is warranted to detect any signs of impeding respiratory obstruction. Conclusion: All emergency physicians need to keep their airway management skills updated in order to perform reliably and rapidly in difficult and urgent situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-324
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Surgery Case Reports
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Airway management
  • Ascending cervical artery
  • Emergency tracheostomy
  • Thyrocervical trunk
  • Vascular embolization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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