emphysema

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Related to mediastinal emphysema: pneumomediastinum, pneumothorax, subcutaneous emphysema

emphysema

(ĕmfĭsē`mə), pathological or physiological enlargement or overdistention of the air sacs of the lungs. A major cause of pulmonary insufficiency in chronic cigarette smokers, emphysema is a progressive disease that commonly occurs in conjunction with chronic bronchitis. It is found predominantly in people over age 45, but a genetically based early-onset form also exists. Symptoms are difficulty in breathing, cough with thick sticky sputum, and a bluish tinge of the skin. Progressive disease can result in disability, and in severe cases heart or respiratory failure and death.

Causes

Cigarette smoking is the cause of most cases of emphysema. Tobacco smoke damages the lungs' alveoli, the tiny air sacs through which inhaled oxygen is transferred to the bloodstream and carbon dioxide is passed back to the lungs to be exhaled. The lungs become less elastic and breathing becomes increasingly difficult. The genetic form of emphysema occurs earlier in life (worsened by, but not dependent upon cigarette smoking). It is caused by a rare genetic deficiency of the protein alpha1-antitrypsin. In the absence of antitrypsin, which normally functions to protect the lungs from damage, the walls of the alveoli are attacked by chemicals released in alveoli in response to tobacco smoke and air pollutants.

Treatment

Emphysematous lung damage is irreversible. Its progression can be slowed by giving up smoking. Treatment is aimed at increasing the functional capacity of the lungs and may include bronchodilators, administration of supplemental oxygen, or lung transplantation. Surgical removal of affected lung tissue (lung volume reduction surgery), aimed at allowing healthy areas of the lung room to function, is being studied for its effectiveness and safety. The genetic form is treated with supplemental antitrypsin administered by infusion or by a gene therapy technique that uses T cells (special immune cells that identify diseased or deformed cells) to deliver it to the desired cell sites.

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emphysema

[‚em·fə′sē·mə]
(medicine)
A pulmonary disorder characterized by overdistention and destruction of the air spaces in the lungs.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

emphysema

Pathol
1. a condition in which the air sacs of the lungs are grossly enlarged, causing breathlessness and wheezing
2. the abnormal presence of air in a tissue or part
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Caption: Figure 2: (a) Axial CT image at the T5 level demonstrating extensive subcutaneous and mediastinal emphysema. (b) Axial CT image at the T8 level demonstrating a pneumothorax on the left side.
Wang, "Cervical and mediastinal emphysema secondary to third molar extraction," Head and Neck, vol.
In the cases and reviews reported in the literature, it has been observed that the reason for cervicofacial and mediastinal emphysema following dental procedures is the use of high-speed handpiece and air syringes (1-2, 5-7).
Spontaneous cervical and mediastinal emphysema. Laryngoscope 1990;100(9):938-940.
Additional lesions included mediastinal emphysema, gradually variable suppurative bronchopneumonia, and catarrhalic enteritis.
Mediastinal emphysema; subcutaneous emphysema; delivery; labor complications.
Esophageal perforation should be suspected immediately in the presence of a mediastinal emphysema in a chest X-ray.
GROUP II: Involves rupture of mediastinal pleura that follows damage to the fascial layer with the mediastinal emphysema.
In the presence of a positive physical examination and radiography showing mediastinal emphysema, no further investigations are necessary to diagnose facial subcutaneous emphysema.
Recurrence of spontaneous mediastinal emphysema is unusual, although it has been described in both children and adults.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SPONTANEOUS PNEUMOMEDIASTINUM IN THIS SERIES (N = 6) Signs and Symptoms Number Subcutaneous emphysema 5 Chest pain 4 Dyspnea 4 Tachypnea 4 Hoarseness 1 Odynophagia 1 Hamman's sign 1 Plain x-ray films showed mediastinal emphysema in all six patients (Figures 1 and 2).
Fourteen days later, his surgical and mediastinal emphysema had completely resolved clinically, and he was discharged from hospital follow-up and cleared for return to duty.