Mendelson syndrome

Last revised by Ashesh Ishwarlal Ranchod on 28 Mar 2023

Mendelson syndrome, also known as peptic pneumonia, refers to acute chemical pneumonitis caused by the aspiration of stomach contents in patients under general anesthesia.

This syndrome develops rapidly (2-12 hours after aspiration) and within hours the patient may become

Other signs include

Usually ​there is minimal sputum production ref.

The primary pathogenesis is secondary to the aspiration of acidic stomach contents, although other body juices, e.g. bile, may also play a role. 

The chemical burns and causes occlusion of bronchi and bronchioles damaging the epithelium typically leading to pulmonary edema (ARDS). Secondary bacterial superinfection (aspiration pneumonia) may develop.

Plain radiography and CT may depict fleeting infiltrates (which do not last more than one to two days), atelectasis and non-cardiac lung edema.

It is named after the American obstetrician and cardiologist (dual certified) Curtis L Mendelson (1913-2002), who described it in 1946 2

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