Pneumomediastinum usually occurs after esophageal or chest trauma.
Subcutaneous cervical emphysema as a presentation of non-traumatic colonic perforation following colorectal cancer or diverticulitis, is very rare.
We report a case of a patient with rectal cancer who developed a diastatic cecum retroperitoneal perforation with a secondary pneumomediastinum and cervical emphysema. The patient was in treatment with a neoadjuvant chemo-radiotherapy for a low rectal cancer.
Treatment consisted in an emergency right hemi-colectomy with ileostomy and performance of distal colonic fistula.
The Authors discuss the occurrence of pneumomediastinum and cervical emphysema complicating rectal cancer, pointing out ethiopathogenesis, clinical presentation, diagnosis and treatment. The importance of performing a diverting colostomy when neoadjuvant chemotherapy is scheduled in patients with stenotic rectal cancer, although not clinically occluded.