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Anesth Analg. 2006 Oct;103(4):941-7.

The incidence and outcome of perioperative pulmonary aspiration in a university hospital: a 4-year retrospective analysis.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, UPMC Presbyterian/Montefiore Hospital, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh 15213, Pennsylvania, USA.


We evaluated the current incidence and outcome of perioperative pulmonary aspiration (PPA) in the nonobstetric adult population at a tertiary university medical center. A 4-yr retrospective analysis (January 2001-December 2004) was conducted using both quality improvement data and the hospital-wide medical archive recording system. PPA was defined as either detection of nonrespiratory secretions from the tracheobronchial tree or development of new pulmonary symptoms and/or new abnormalities in chest radiographs within 24 hr postoperatively. Of 99,441 anesthetics, 14 cases had confirmed PPA. Seven of them (50%) occurred in connection with gastroesophageal procedures. All patients had one or more predisposing risk factors for PPA. PPA occurred under general anesthesia in 10 patients and under monitored anesthesia care in 4 patients. In general anesthesia cases, the aspiration was recognized immediately after induction in 5 patients and occurred during changing of the endotracheal tubes in 5. The PPA was detected during the surgical procedures in all the monitored anesthesia care cases. Six patients with confirmed PPA developed pulmonary complications, of which, one died. Ten of 14 (70%) cases of PPA were the result of improper anesthesia technique. The current incidence of PPA is 1 of 7103, with morbidity 1 of 16,573 and mortality 1 of 99,441.

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