High incidence of silent aspiration in elderly patients with community-acquired pneumonia

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1994 Jul;150(1):251-3. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.150.1.8025758.


Pneumonia is a major cause of death in the elderly. To investigate the role of silent aspiration in community-acquired pneumonia, we examined the occurrence of silent aspiration during sleep in 14 elderly patients with acute episode of pneumonia and 10 age-matched control subjects by a new technique using indium111 chloride. Scanning of the thorax demonstrated that 71% of patients aspirated, whereas aspiration was observed in only 10% of control subjects. The percentage of positive scans was significantly higher in patients with acute episode of pneumonia than in control subjects (p < 0.02). The results may indicate an important role of silent aspiration in the development of community-acquired pneumonia in the elderly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indium
  • Indium Radioisotopes
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Sleep


  • Indium Radioisotopes
  • Indium
  • indium trichloride