Reexpansion pulmonary edema after chest drainage for pneumothorax: A case report and literature overview

M Verhagen, J M van Buijtenen, L M G Geeraedts
Respiratory Medicine Case Reports 2015, 14: 10-2

BACKGROUND: Reexpansion pulmonary edema (RPE) is a rare complication that may occur after treatment of lung collapse caused by pneumothorax, atelectasis or pleural effusion and can be fatal in 20% of cases. The pathogenesis of RPE is probably related to histological changes of the lung parenchyma and reperfusion-damage by free radicals leading to an increased vascular permeability. RPE is often self-limiting and treatment is supportive.

CASE REPORT: A 76-year-old patient was treated by intercostal drainage for a traumatic pneumothorax. Shortly afterwards he developed reexpansion pulmonary edema and was transferred to the intensive care unit for ventilatory support. Gradually, the edema and dyspnea diminished and the patient could be discharged in good clinical condition.

CONCLUSION: RPE is characterized by rapidly progressive respiratory failure and tachycardia after intercostal chest drainage. Early recognition of signs and symptoms of RPE is important to initiate early management and allow for a favorable outcome.

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