Managing Massive Hemoptysis

Chest. 2020 Jan;157(1):77-88. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2019.07.012. Epub 2019 Jul 30.


Massive hemoptysis is a medical emergency with high mortality presenting several difficult diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. The origin of bleeding and underlying etiology often is not immediately apparent, and techniques for management of this dangerous condition necessitate an expedient response. Unlike hemorrhage in other circumstances, a small amount of blood can rapidly flood the airways, thereby impairing oxygenation and ventilation, leading to asphyxia and consequent cardiovascular collapse. Of paramount importance is early control of the patient's airway and immediate isolation of hemorrhage in an attempt to localize and control bleeding. A coordinated team response is essential to guarantee the best chances of patient survival. Prompt control of the airway and steps to limit the spread of hemorrhage take precedence. Bronchial artery embolization, rigid and flexible bronchoscopy, and surgery all serve as potential treatment options to provide definitive control of hemorrhage. Several adjunctive therapies described in recent years may also assist in the control of bleeding; however, their role is less defined in life-threatening hemoptysis and warrants additional studies. In this concise review, we emphasize the steps necessary for a systematic approach in the management of life-threatening hemoptysis.

Keywords: bronchial artery embolization; bronchoscopy; hemoptysis; life-threatening hemoptysis; massive hemoptysis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoscopy
  • Checklist
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Electrocoagulation
  • Embolization, Therapeutic
  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Hemoptysis / diagnosis*
  • Hemoptysis / etiology
  • Hemoptysis / physiopathology
  • Hemoptysis / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Prognosis


  • Fibrinolytic Agents