Pulmonary fibrosis associated with psychotropic drug therapy: a case report

J Med Case Rep. 2009 Nov 16:3:126. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-3-126.


Introduction: Sertraline and Risperidone are commonly used psychotropic drugs. Sertraline has previously been associated with eosinopilic pneumonia. Neither drug is recognised as a cause of diffuse fibrotic lung disease. Our report represents the first such case.

Case presentation: We describe the case of a 33 year old Asian male with chronic schizophrenia who had been treated for three years with sertraline and risperidone. He presented to hospital in respiratory failure following a six month history of progressive breathlessness. High resolution CT scan demonstrated diffuse pulmonary fibrosis admixed with patchy areas of consolidation. Because the aetiology of this man's diffuse parenchymal lung disease remained unclear a surgical lung biopsy was undertaken. Histological assessment disclosed widespread fibrosis with marked eosinophillic infiltration and associated organising pneumonia - features all highly suggestive of drug induced lung disease. Following withdrawal of both sertraline and risperidone and initiation of corticosteroid therapy the patient's respiratory failure resolved and three years later he remains well albeit limited by breathlessness on heavy exertion.

Conclusion: Drug induced lung disease can be rapidly progressive and if drug exposure continues may result in respiratory failure and death. Prompt recognition is critical as drug withdrawal may result in marked resolution of disease. This case highlights sertraline and risperidone as drugs that may, in susceptible individuals, cause diffuse pulmonary fibrosis.