Bullous lung disease due to marijuana

Respirology. 2008 Jan;13(1):122-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1843.2007.01186.x.


Background and objective: In contrast to the well-described effects of tobacco smoking upon pulmonary emphysema, with approximately 15% of smokers being affected at the age of 65 years, the effects of marijuana smoking are rarely reported and poorly understood.

Methods: We report a series of 10 patients (mean age 41 +/- 9 years, eight male, two female), who presented over a period of 12 months to our respiratory unit with new respiratory symptoms, and who admitted to regular chronic marijuana smoking (>1 year continuously). Symptoms on presentation were dyspnoea (n = 4), pneumothorax (n = 4) and chest infection (n = 2).

Results: High-resolution CT revealed asymmetrical, variably sized, emphysematous bullae in the upper and mid zones. However, the CXR was normal in four patients and lung function was normal in five.

Conclusions: Marijuana smoking leads to asymmetrical bullous disease, often in the setting of normal CXR and lung function. In subjects who smoke marijuana, these pathological changes occur at a younger age (approximately 20 years earlier) than in tobacco smokers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Diseases / etiology*
  • Lung Diseases / pathology
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Victoria