Severe barium sulfate aspirationinto the lung: clinical presentation, prognosis and therapy

Respiration. 1999;66(1):81-4. doi: 10.1159/000029344.


Aspiration of large amounts of barium sulfate is a rare incident during radiographic contrast procedures. Here we describe two patients, who developed acute dyspnea after aspiration of significant amounts of barium into the lung during an upper gastrointestinal radiographic contrast study. The regions of the lung involved depended on the position of the patients during and after aspiration. Arterial blood gas analysis revealed hypoxemia due to alveolar shunt with V/Q distribution disturbances. Bronchoscopy was performed to extract the contrast medium from the tracheobronchial tree. The patients could be discharged a few days later with normal lung function. Long-term prognosis is generally excellent due to the inert character of barium sulfate, even though impressive radiographic findings remain.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Barium Sulfate*
  • Contrast Media*
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies
  • Humans
  • Lung
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / etiology*
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / therapy
  • Prognosis


  • Contrast Media
  • Barium Sulfate