International Journal of Academic Medicine

: 2017  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 59--62

Reexpansion pulmonary edema

Stanislaw P Stawicki1, Babak Sarani2, Benjamin M Braslow2 
1 OPUS 12 Foundation, Bethlehem, PA, USA
2 Department of Surgery, Division of Traumatology and Surgical Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Stanislaw P Stawicki
Department of Research and Innovation, St. Luke's University Health Network, EW2 Research Administration, 801 Ostrum Street, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18015

Key points: (a) Reexpansion pulmonary edema-RxPE– is a rare form of acute lung injury, with an incidence of approximately 1% following evacuation of a pneumothorax; (b) RxPE usually follows rapid reinflation of collapsed lung parenchyma; (c) The most common factor associated with RxPE is the duration of lung collapse– more than 3 days seems to be the critical amount of time; (d) The pathophysiologic changes associated with RxPE are complex and not yet fully understood; (e) The pathologic process results from a combination of rapid pulmonary reexpansion with concurrent mechanical alveolar injury, decrease in surfactant and regional lung tissue hypoxemia, inflammatory cell migration and release of inflammatory mediators, and the resulting changes in capillary-alveolar barrier occurring concurrently with increased capillary/hydrostatic pressures; (f) Clinical manifestations of RxPE vary from minimal symptoms to life-threatening hypoxia and cardio-respiratory collapse; (g) The patient may experience dyspnea, thoracic pain, cough with or without pink/foamy sputum, cyanosis, rales and stertors on auscultation. Other clinical symptoms may include fever, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, and hypotension; (h) The symptoms of RxPE usually appear within the first two hours following pulmonary reexpansion, but may be delayed by as many as 24-48 h; (i) RxPE usually lasts clinically for as long as 1-2 days, but may take anywhere from 5 to 7 days to resolve; (j) Critical care practitioners should be familiar with the most common factors involved in the pathogenesis of RxPE; (k) The knowledge of these predisposing factors and the ability to effectively treat RxPE are important to prevention and treatment of this potentially fatal condition. The following core competencies are addressed in this article: Medical knowledge, Patient care. Republished with permission from: Stawicki SP, Sarani B, Braslow BM. Reexpansion pulmonary edema. OPUS 12 Scientist2008;2(2):29-31.

How to cite this article:
Stawicki SP, Sarani B, Braslow BM. Reexpansion pulmonary edema.Int J Acad Med 2017;3:59-62

How to cite this URL:
Stawicki SP, Sarani B, Braslow BM. Reexpansion pulmonary edema. Int J Acad Med [serial online] 2017 [cited 2020 Nov 28 ];3:59-62
Available from:;year=2017;volume=3;issue=3;spage=59;epage=62;aulast=Stawicki;type=0