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Chest. 2009 Dec;136(6):1678-1681. doi: 10.1378/chest.09-2295.

Whole-lung lavage for pulmonary alveolar proteinosis.

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Department of Interventional Pulmonology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA.
Department of Interventional Pulmonology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA. Electronic address:


Pulmonary alveolar proteinosis (PAP) is a disease characterized by the deposition of amorphous lipoproteinaceous material in the alveoli secondary to abnormal processing of surfactant by macrophages. Whole-lung lavage often is performed as the first line of treatment for this disease because it is a means to wash out the proteinaceous material from the alveoli and reestablish effective oxygenation and ventilation. Whole-lung lavage is a large-volume BAL that is performed mainly in the treatment of PAP. In brief, it involves the induction of general anesthesia followed by isolation of the two lungs with a double-lumen endotracheal tube and performance of single-lung ventilation while large-volume lavages are performed on the nonventilated lung. Warmed normal saline solution in 1-L aliquots (total volumes up to 20 L) is instilled into the lung, chest physiotherapy is performed, then the proteinaceous effluent is drained with the aid of postural positioning. The sequence of events is repeated until such time as the effluent, which is initially milky and opaque, becomes clear. This procedure results in significant clinical and radiographic improvement secondary to the washing out of the proteinaceous material from the alveoli. The whole-lung lavage video details all aspects of the procedure, including case selection, patient preparation and equipment, a step-by-step review of the procedure, and postoperative considerations.

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