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Rev Mal Respir. 2011 Sep;28(7):919-23. doi: 10.1016/j.rmr.2011.05.005. Epub 2011 Jul 7.

[Fatal alveolar haemorrhage following a "bang" of cannabis].

[Article in French]

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Service de pneumologie, hôpital d'instruction des armées, 29240 Brest Armées, France.


The new methods of cannabis consumption (home made water pipe or "bang") may be responsible for fatal respiratory complications. We present a case, with fatal outcome, of a man of 19 years with no previous history other than an addiction to cannabis using "bang". He was admitted to intensive care with acute dyspnoea. A CT scan showed bilateral, diffuse alveolar shadowing. He was anaemic with an Hb of 9.3g/l. Bronchoalveolar lavage revealed massive alveolar haemorrhage. Investigations for infection and immunological disorder were negative and toxicology was negative except for cannabis. Antibiotic treatment was given and favourable progress allowed early discharge. Death occurred 15 days later due to alveolar haemorrhage following a further "bang" of cannabis. Autopsy showed toxic alveolar haemorrhage. The probable mechanism is pulmonary damage due to acid anhydrides released by the incomplete combustion of cannabis in contact with plastic. These acids have a double effect on the lungs: a direct toxicity with severe inflammation of the mucosa leading to alveolar haemorrhage and subsequently the acid anhydrides may lead to the syndrome of intra-alveolar haemorrhage and anaemia described in occupational lung diseases by Herbert in Oxford in 1979. It manifests itself by haemoptysis and intravascular haemolysis. We draw attention to the extremely serious potential consequences of new methods of using cannabis, particularly the use of "bang" in homemade plastic materials.

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