Postobstructive pulmonary oedema--a case series and review

Anaesth Intensive Care. 2000 Feb;28(1):72-6. doi: 10.1177/0310057X0002800114.


Six cases of post-extubation pulmonary oedema in otherwise healthy patients are reported. All were preceded by an episode of laryngospasm and followed a clinical course similar to that previously documented in cases of post-obstructive pulmonary oedema. Frank haemoptysis was a feature of five of the presentations. One patient was reintubated and ventilated, two were admitted to the intensive care unit for mask CPAP, one was managed with CPAP in the recovery ward and two with supplemental oxygen only. All cases resolved fully within 24 hours. Some evidence points to the syndrome being the result of airway bleeding rather than true pulmonary oedema. The literature suggests that it occurs more commonly than is generally thought, with a frequency of 0.05 to 0.1% of all anaesthetics, and is often unrecognised or misdiagnosed. Most cases occur in the early postoperative period, so anaesthetists are well placed to witness, investigate and manage this interesting condition.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects*
  • Laryngismus / etiology*
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Pulmonary Edema / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Edema / etiology*