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Volume 15 No. 05
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Accepted Papers

Case Reports

Iatrogenic Nontraumatic CPAP-Induced Pneumocephalus in a Patient With Meningitis

Antonios Charokopos, MD, MSc1; Mary Elizabeth Card, MD1; Richard Peter Manes, MD2; Albert Shaw, MD, PhD3
1Department of Internal Medicine, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut; 2Department of Otolaryngology, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut; 3Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut

Pneumocephalus, or air within the cranium, can be caused by trauma, intracranial infections, or tumors, and can also occur as a complication of neurosurgery and lumbar puncture. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy can precipitate or worsen pneumocephalus in cases of known head trauma. However, nontraumatic pneumocephalus being caused by CPAP is a highly unexpected clinical event. We describe a case of a patient who presented with meningitis due to an atypical organism that usually resides in the oral cavity, and who developed nontraumatic pneumocephalus in the hospital due to CPAP therapy. The underlying cause, a cerebrospinal fluid leak, was likely the mediator for both pathologies. In the setting of the increasing prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea, physicians can benefit from being aware of this atypical presentation of meningitis and atypical complication of CPAP therapy.


Charokopos A, Card ME, Manes RP, Shaw A. Iatrogenic nontraumatic CPAP-induced pneumocephalus in a patient with meningitis. J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(5):781–783.

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