Reexpansion pulmonary edema

Robert D. Tarver, Lynn S. Broderick, Dewey J. Conces

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

70 Scopus citations


Reexpansion pulmonary edema is a rare complication attending the rapid reexpansion of a chronically collapsed lung, such as occurs after evacuation of a large amount of air or fluid from the pleural space. The condition usually appears unexpectedly and dramatically-immediately or within 1 h in 64% of patients and within 24 h in the remainder. The clinical manifestations are varied; they range from roentgenographic findings alone in asymptomatic patients to severe cardiorespiratory insufficiency. The radiographic evidence of reexpansion pulmonary edema is a unilateral alveolar filling pattern, seen within a few hours of reexpansion of the lung. The edema may progress for 24-48 h and persist for 4-5 days. Human data on the pathophysiology of reexpansion pulmonary edema derive from small series of patients, case reports, and reviews of the literature. On the other hand, a larger body of data exists on experimental reexpansion pulmonary edema in cats, monkeys, rabbits, sheep, and goats. This review examines the clinical and experimental evidence for reexpansion pulmonary edema. In addition, we detail the historical background, clinical setting, treatment, and outcome of reexpansion pulmonary edema.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-209
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Thoracic Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


  • Edema
  • Pleural effusion
  • Pneumothorax
  • Pulmonary edema

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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