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Clin Pract Cases Emerg Med


INTRODUCTION: Blowing the nose and sneezing are ubiquitous physiologic processes. While exceedingly rare, traumatic injuries have been described. We detail a case of spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage and orbital fractures sustained as a result of these two phenomena in an otherwise healthy adult without known risk factors for bleeding or intracranial hemorrhage.

CASE REPORT: A 79-year-old female presented to the emergency department after blowing her nose with an episode of sneezing following mild epistaxis. She denied any history of trauma, anticoagulation use, bleeding disorders, or pain associated with her symptoms. On examination, she had notable right periorbital swelling. Computed tomography revealed multiple areas of intracranial hemorrhage along with right-sided orbital and zygomatic fractures. After consulting trauma surgery and neurosurgery, we elected to pursue conservative management with repeat imaging. The patient had an uneventful course and was discharged with outpatient follow-up two days later.

CONCLUSION: To our knowledge, this is the first case described of this constellation of injuries after a relatively benign process. Despite not having increased risk factors for intracranial hemorrhage (anticoagulation use, history of trauma, history of coagulopathy), this patient had severe injuries that presented with few external symptoms. This case serves as a reminder that while physiologic processes are almost always benign, serious traumatic injuries can result. Clinicians should have a low threshold for advanced imaging when there is a high clinical suspicion of facial fractures or more ominous processes.

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