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Am Surg. 1993 Jul;59(7):443-7.

Pulmonary edema following post-operative laryngospasm: a case report and review of the literature.

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Department of Surgery, Keesler Technical Training Center, Medical Center (ATC), Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi 39534.


The pathophysiology of acute, negative-pressure pulmonary edema following post-anesthetic laryngospasm (PLPE) is unclear. We present a patient and review the literature to propose etiology and management. Nineteen reported patients (3 female, 16 male, aged 3 months to 60 years) with PLPE had undergone 10 otolaryngologic, three orthopedic, four skin/soft tissue, one intraabdominal, and one ophthalmologic procedures. Twelve patients (63%) had significant medical history. Initial intubation was performed without difficulty in 17 patients, there were no predisposing trends in anesthetic management, and post-anesthetic extubation was performed without difficulty in 18 patients. Thirteen patients developed laryngospasm in less than 2 minutes. Eight were ventilated with bag/mask, 15 required reintubation, and nine required paralysis. Onset of PLPE was less than 3 minutes in 12 patients; chest roentgenograms showed edema in 17 patients. Mechanical ventilation was required for less than 24 hours in all patients. PLPE cleared in less than 24 hours in most patients. Furosemide was administered in nine patients, digoxin in one, theophylline in two, and steroids in four patients. The precise pathophysiologic mechanism of PLPE is unclear despite numerous proposed mechanisms. PLPE resolves rapidly with short-term ventilatory support. Use of diuretics/airway dilators is variable, and their contribution to management is unclear.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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