Published: 2021-07-23

Ginkgo leaf sign on X-ray chest due to subcutaneous emphysema in a COVID-19 patient

Ashish Behera, Mohan Kumar H., Rohit Bakshi, Arihant Sharma


Subcutaneous emphysema (SE) is usually encountered in cases of structural lung diseases and secondary to direct trauma or iatrogenic procedures for airway access. It is mostly associated with pneumothorax. The diagnosis is made clinically by palpation of the affected area and radiology. Here we presented a case of COVID-19 pneumonia presenting with extensive subcutaneous emphysema resulting in airway compression which was a very rare manifestation of COVID-19 infection. The COVID-19 infection led to extensive alveolar damage to the lungs and the chronic cough which may have led to this complication due to sudden change of pressure differences in the chest wall cavity. The limitation of using of personal protective equipments hindered the diagnosis of this condition as auscultation and the palpatory feelings were greatly hindered. The chest X-ray shows air in subcutaneous space and the prominence of the fibres of bilateral pectoralis muscles which gives an impression of the venous system of a Ginkgo leaf, so named as Ginkgo leaf sign. 


Subcutaneous emphysema, Ginkgo sign, Chest X-ray, Spontaneous emphysema, COVID-19, Acute breathlessness

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