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VOLUME 22 , ISSUE 3 ( 2018 ) > List of Articles


Smoke Inhalation Injury: Etiopathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Management

Kapil Gupta, Mayank Mehrotra, Parul Kumar, Anoop Raj Gogia, Arun Prasad, Joseph Arnold Fisher

Keywords : Burns, lung injury, smoke inhalation injury

Citation Information : Gupta K, Mehrotra M, Kumar P, Gogia AR, Prasad A, Fisher JA. Smoke Inhalation Injury: Etiopathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Management. Indian J Crit Care Med 2018; 22 (3):180-188.

DOI: 10.4103/ijccm.IJCCM_460_17

License: CC BY-ND 3.0

Published Online: 01-05-2018

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2018; The Author(s).


Smoke inhalation injury is a major determinant of morbidity and mortality in fire victims. It is a complex multifaceted injury affecting initially the airway; however, in short time, it can become a complex life-threatening systemic disease affecting every organ in the body. In this review, we provide a summary of the underlying pathophysiology of organ dysfunction and provide an up-to-date survey of the various critical care modalities that have been found beneficial in caring for these patients. Major pathophysiological change is development of edema in the respiratory tract. The tracheobronchial tree is injured by steam and toxic chemicals, leading to bronchoconstriction. Lung parenchyma is damaged by the release of proteolytic elastases, leading to release of inflammatory mediators, increase in transvascular flux of fluids, and development of pulmonary edema and atelectasis. Decreased levels of surfactant and immunomodulators such as interleukins and tumor-necrosis-factor-α accentuate the injury. A primary survey is conducted at the site of fire, to ensure adequate airway, breathing, and circulation. A good intravenous access is obtained for the administration of resuscitation fluids. Early intubation, preferably with fiberoptic bronchoscope, is prudent before development of airway edema. Bronchial hygiene is maintained, which involves therapeutic coughing, chest physiotherapy, deep breathing exercises, and early ambulation. Pharmacological agents such as beta-2 agonists, racemic epinephrine, N-acetyl cysteine, and aerosolized heparin are used for improving oxygenation of lungs. Newer agents being tested are perfluorohexane, porcine pulmonary surfactant, and ClearMate. Early diagnosis and treatment of smoke inhalation injury are the keys for better outcome.

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