Exogenous lipoid pneumonia

Last revised by Adrià Roset Altadill on 29 Mar 2023

Exogenous lipoid pneumonia is a form of lipoid pneumonia. Please refer to the main article for a broader discussion. 

In terms of the onset of the presentation, it can be divided into two different forms:

  • acute exogenous lipoid pneumonia

    • uncommon and typically caused by an episode of aspiration of a large quantity of a petroleum-based product

      • typically occurs in children due to accidental poisoning

      • has also been reported to occur with agents such squalene/triterpene 8

      • can also occur in performers who use liquid hydrocarbons for flame blowing (i.e. fire-eaters): hence also called fire-eater's pneumonia or fire-eater's lung 4

  • chronic exogenous lipoid pneumonia

    • usually results from repeated episodes of aspiration or inhalation of animal fat or mineral or vegetable oils over an extended period

    • typically occurs in older patients but also has been reported in children as well as in infants when mineral oil is used as a lubricant to facilitate feeding

    • also can occur in patients without a predisposing anatomic or functional abnormality in swallowing

    • aspiration of fats or oils has been reported in patients with a history of chronic use of mineral oil or petroleum-based lubricants and decongestants

History and etymology

It was initially described in 1925 by a Canadian pathologist GF Laughlen after autopsies on five different patients, three of whom were children 6,7.

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