Chronic salicylism resulting in noncardiogenic pulmonary edema requiring hemodialysis

D L Cohen, J Post, A A Ferroggiaro, J Perrone, M H Foster
American Journal of Kidney Diseases 2000, 36 (3): E20
Salicylate intoxication is frequently overlooked as a cause of noncardiogenic pulmonary edema and altered mental status in adult patients. We describe a 42-year-old woman who presented with two episodes of recurrent noncardiogenic pulmonary edema requiring intubation. The first admission to hospital triggered an extensive initial workup that did not indicate a cause for the pulmonary edema. At the second presentation, recognition of the clinical syndrome in the emergency department led to the correct diagnosis of salicylate intoxication. The patient was successfully treated with hemodialysis and urinary alkalinization, leading to rapid resolution of pulmonary edema and extubation. Several aspects of the clinical presentation suggest that the patient suffers from chronic salicylism, probably complicated by episodic superimposed acute intoxication, a condition often misdiagnosed or diagnosed late in the course of disease, contributing to substantial morbidity and mortality in these patients. Maintenance of a high index of suspicion and rapid institution of appropriate therapy including hemodialysis once the diagnosis is established is an important determinant of outcome in this serious but underdiagnosed disorder.

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