Pneumomediastinum: A Complication of Synthetic Cannabinoid K2 Use

Bharat Bajantri, Tushi Singh, Sindhaghatta Venkatram, Gilda Diaz-Fuentes


The use of synthetic cannabinoid K2 (SCK2) continues to rise. Products are sold in different flavors and mixed with various herbal products resulting in innumerable presenting symptoms. Common presentations are psychomotor activity, dystonia, hypertension, tachydysrhythmia, rhabdomyolysis, and renal failure. We present a 21-year-old woman who was admitted for severe nausea associated with several bouts of vomiting and upper abdominal pain. She had used SCK2 for recreation prior to the onset of her symptoms and she has been using SCK2 regularly for about a year. Chest and abdomen roentgenogram revealed pneumomediastinum. Esophagogram ruled out esophageal injury. She was managed conservatively with resolution of pneumomediastinum. We hypothesize that hyperemesis secondary to SCK2 use can increase the alveolar pressure leading to barotrauma. Although pneumomediastinum is a benign and self-limiting condition, esophagogram should be performed to exclude esophageal perforation which is a potentially life-threatening condition. Awareness of this presentation is important in order to evaluate for complications of barotrauma.

J Med Cases. 2016;7(10):455-458


Pneumomediastinum; Spice; K2; Synthetic marijuana

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