Post obstructive pulmonary edema

Post-obstructive pulmonary edema is a type of non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema and is an uncommon but well-described complication of upper airway obstruction.

It essentially occurs in three clinical settings 6:

  • acute airway obstruction
  • chronic upper airway obstruction
  • immediately after the relief of acute upper airway obstruction

Two different mechanisms have been proposed for the development of pulmonary edema in the setting of upper airway obstruction 1:

  • significant fluid shifts due to changes in intrathoracic pressure creating a hydrostatic transpulmonary gradient with fluid moving from high pressure (pulmonary venous system) to low pressure (pulmonary interstitium and airspaces)
  • disruption of the alveolar epithelial and pulmonary microvascular membranes from severe mechanical stress, leading to increased pulmonary capillary permeability and protein-rich pulmonary edema

The most common cause of post-obstructive pulmonary edema is laryngospasm during intubation or after anesthesia in the post-operative period.

Patients in whom post-obstructive pulmonary edema develops generally have an uncomplicated hospital course followed by rapid resolution 1.

Share article

Article information

rID: 17259
System: Chest
Section: Gamuts
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Post-obstructive pulmonary oedema
  • Post obstructive pulmonary edema
  • Laryngospasm included pulmonary oedema

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Laryngospasm-indu...
    Case 1: laryngospasm-induced
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2: negative pressure pulmonary edema
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

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

     Thank you for updating your details.