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Respiration. 1999;66(1):46-51.

Using 99mTc-DTPA radioaerosol inhalation lung scintigraphies to detect the lung injury induced by consuming Sauropus androgynus vegetable and comparison with conventional pulmonary function tests.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.


Consuming Sauropus androgynus, a Malaysian plant, to reduce body weight began to become fashionable in Taiwan in 1994. According to some reports, people consuming this vegetable developed lung injuries. From July to November 1995, there were 81 nonsmoking women admitted to our hospital. Thirty-six cases had respiratory symptoms/signs and the remaining 45 had no symptoms/signs. We investigated these patients with pulmonary function tests (PFT) and technetium-99m DTPA radioaerosol inhalation lung scintigraphies (DTPA lung scan), a test to evaluate the lung ventilation and alveolar epithelial permeability. Eighteen patients had abnormal results in PFT, including obstructive type (n = 17), restrictive type (n = 5), and both (n = 4). There were 33 patients with abnormalities in DTPA lung scans, including unhomogeneous deposition of DTPA radioaerosols (n = 19), faster clearance of radioaerosols from lung (n = 26), and both (n = 12). Analyzing the results, we found that the patients with respiratory symptoms had a higher incidence of abnormal results of PFT and DTPA lung scans than the patients without respiratory symptoms (p < 0.05). Besides, we found that the DTPA lung scan was more sensitive than chest x-ray and PFT in detecting the lung injuries related to the consumption of S. androgynus (p < 0.05). Consuming S. androgynus can result in symptomatic or asymptomatic lung injuries, manifested as obstructive or restrictive ventilatory impairment, unhomogeneous radioaerosol distribution, and increased alveolar epithelial permeability. In addition, measurement of the 99mTc-DTPA clearance is the most sensitive test to detect the lung injuries caused by consuming S. androgynus.

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