An 81-year-old man with an enhancing upper-pole renal mass underwent laparoscopic nephrectomy via a retroperitoneal approach. Postoperatively, his systolic blood pressure declined to 72 mm Hg, and arterial blood gas analysis suggested acute respiratory acidosis. Chest radiography suggested subcutaneous emphysema, but a CT scan showed tension pneumothorax. This case illustrates the difficulties in interpretation of chest films caused by the subcutaneous air that is routinely present after laparoscopic procedures.
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