Prevalence of negative-pressure pulmonary edema at an orthopaedic hospital

J South Orthop Assoc. 2000 Winter;9(4):248-53.


Negative-pressure pulmonary edema (NPPE) occurs when a large, negative intrathoracic pressure is generated against an obstructed upper airway, causing fluid to shift into the lung interstitium. Young, healthy, athletic male patients appear to be at increased risk for this disorder, but the prevalence in orthopaedic surgery patients has been unknown. We retrospectively reviewed the charts of 14 patients (11 male, 3 female) with NPPE at our institution over a 15-year period. The patients had 11 different surgical procedures; 16,653 similar procedures were done during this time. The overall prevalence of NPPE (< 0.1%) was not significantly different between male and female patients. Patients with NPPE were significantly younger than those without NPPE. If NPPE is recognized promptly and treated appropriately with intravenous diuretic and oxygen therapy, most patients respond well. Physicians should be vigilant to the potential for NPPE in young, otherwise healthy patients after general anesthesia.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Male
  • Orthopedic Procedures*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Edema / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies