Lung herniation as a result of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): A case report and literature review

Pia Fuller, Ibrahim Almafreji (Lead / Corresponding author), Stephen Cole

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Lung herniation is a rare complication following cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and is defined as a protrusion of lung parenchyma through the thoracic wall. This article presents a case in which a patient presented to the hospital with sepsis secondary to community-acquired pneumonia. A 74-year-old female with a background of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) suffered a sudden pulseless electrical activity (PEA) cardiac arrest while being managed in the acute medical ward. The CT following the return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) demonstrated multiple bilateral anterior rib fractures and herniation of the right lung through the right lateral thoracic wall. She was managed in the ICU with ventilatory and cardiovascular support for four days until she suffered a second cardiac arrest, where resuscitation was unsuccessful. In addition to this case report, a literature review was carried out, given the rarity of this pathology. The literature provides only 13 articles on lung herniation due to CPR. The most common injury pattern was anterior rib fractures leading to anterior lung herniation. In our case report, the herniation was away from the fracture site at the lateral chest wall. A common complication was surgical emphysema in several of the articles, as was in our case. The surgical intervention appears to be indicated in large hernias, incarceration, or those causing pain and respiratory compromise. In our case, conservative management was elected, given the patient's significant persistent cardiovascular instability unsuitable for interhospital transfer. A high index of suspicion should be adopted for patients who undergo a prolonged period of CPR, including frail patients with underlying health conditions such as chronic lung disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere37262
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2023


  • cpr
  • intensive care medicine
  • cardio thoracic surgery
  • in hospital cardiac arrest
  • cardiopulmonary resucitation
  • pulmonary herniation
  • lung herniation


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