Hot air lands UT physician in prestigious journal

February 16, 2009 | News
By Matt Lockwood



Diagnosis of a rare medical condition has landed a University of Toledo pediatrician in the Feb. 12 issue of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

A 13-year-old boy with swelling and pain on the left side of his face was referred for suspected infection to Dr. Deepa Mukundan, assistant professor and specialist in pediatric infectious diseases.

CT scan images revealed air in a salivary gland as the cause of his problem, which was confirmed by blood tests.

Those CT scans and a summary of the case were featured in the New England Journal of Medicine. U.S. News and World Report then picked up the story.

Mukundan said the rare condition, known as pneumopartoid, is most often seen in musicians who play wind instruments and in glassblowers. The boy recently had started playing the tuba.

“The parotid gland produces saliva and sends it to the mouth through a duct,” Mukundan said. “Under normal conditions, the duct acts like a one-way valve, allowing saliva to drain into the mouth and not backward. In this case, the pressure of blowing on the tuba forced the air in the wrong direction through the duct into the gland.”

The prescription? The boy had to give up the tuba, at least for a while, to allow the air in his gland to escape over time. However, some months later he developed an infection and the gland had to be removed.


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