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Vaping-Associated Acute Respiratory Failure Due to Acute Lipoid Pneumonia

Abstract

Electronic cigarettes, pens, cartridges and other devices were developed as nicotine delivery systems not requiring combustion of tobacco leaves. This technology was subsequently employed to deliver the cannabis component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) via products often manufactured without adequate quality oversight and sold illegally. Recently, five patients presenting within a 2-month period with acute respiratory failure due to acute lipoid pneumonia after inhaling THC-containing concentrates or oils have been described. We report a 28-year-old previously healthy man who presented in acute respiratory failure 2 weeks after initiating use of a street-purchased THC-containing vape cartridge. Bronchoalveolar lavage cytology with oil red O staining confirmed the diagnosis of acute lipoid pneumonia. Diffuse alveolar hemorrhage and eosinophilic pneumonia were excluded. Evolving evidence supports a clinical entity of acute respiratory failure due to acute, exogenous lipoid pneumonia induced by THC-containing concentrates or oils inhaled through a variety of vaping products. All six patients reported to date received intravenous corticosteroids and survived to hospital discharge.

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Correspondence to Peter V. Dicpinigaitis.

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Dicpinigaitis, P.V., Trachuk, P., Fakier, F. et al. Vaping-Associated Acute Respiratory Failure Due to Acute Lipoid Pneumonia. Lung 198, 31–33 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00408-019-00277-6

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Keywords

  • Vaping
  • Electronic cigarette
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Lipoid pneumonia
  • Acute respiratory failure
  • Nicotine