Crack lung

Dr Vincent Tatco and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Crack lung is a term used to describe one of the respiratory complications of smoked crack cocaine.

Patients present with sympathetic hyperactivity such as tachycardia, hypertension, dilated pupils, and chest pain, productive cough, dyspnoea, and hypoxaemia along with fever, haemoptysis, and respiratory failure 1,3

Histological changes include 1:

  • diffuse alveolar damage
  • alveolar haemorrhage
  • interstitial/alveolar infiltration by inflammatory cells, typically eosinophils as well as peripheral eosinophilia (up to 40%)
Plain radiograph and CT

Reported features are nonspecific and include 2,3,4:

Mild cases resolve with conservative management and severe cases are usually treated with corticosteroids 1

Complications
Share article

Article information

rID: 33276
System: Chest
Section: Pathology
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Respiratory complications of smoked crack cocaine

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Case 1: plain radiograph
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 1: CT
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 2
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.
    Loadinganimation

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.