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Aspiration pneumonia
Classification and external resources

Histopathologic image of aspiration pneumonia in an elderly patient with debilitating neurologic illness. Note foreign-body giant cell reaction. Autopsy case. H & E stain.
ICD-10 J69.0, P24.9
ICD-9 507, 770.12, 770.14, 770.16, 770.18
MedlinePlus 000121
eMedicine emerg/464
MeSH D011015

Aspiration pneumonia is bronchopneumonia that develops due to the entrance of foreign materials that enter the bronchial tree,[1] usually oral or gastric contents (including food, saliva, or nasal secretions). Depending on the acidity of the aspirate, a chemical pneumonitis can develop, and bacterial pathogens (particularly anaerobic bacteria) may add to the inflammation.



Aspiration pneumonia is often caused by an incompetent swallowing mechanism, such as occurs in some forms of neurological disease (a common cause being strokes) or while a person is intoxicated. An iatrogenic cause is during general anaesthesia for an operation and patients are therefore instructed to be nil per os (NPO) (aka Nothing By Mouth) for at least four hours before surgery.

Whether aspiration pneumonia represents a true bacterial infection or a chemical inflammatory process remains the subject of significant controversy. Both causes may present with similar symptoms.


Implicated bacteria

When bacteria are implicated, they are usually of the anaerobic oral flora:

They may also be admixed with aerobic bacteria:


Streptococcus pneumoniae-263.jpg
Infectious pneumonias
Pneumonias caused by infectious or noninfectious agents
Noninfectious pneumonia

The location is often gravity dependent, and depends on the patient position. Generally the right middle and lower lung lobes are the most common sites of infiltrate formation due to the larger caliber and more vertical orientation of the right mainstem bronchus. Patients who aspirate while standing can have bilateral lower lung lobe infiltrates. The right upper lobe is a common area of consolidation in alcoholics who aspirate in the prone position.[3]


Aspiration pneumonia is typically diagnosed by a combination of clinical circumstances (debilitated or neurologically impaired patient), radiologic findings (right lower lobe pneumonia) and microbiologic cultures. Some cases of aspiration pneumonia are caused by aspiration of food particles or other particulate substances like pill fragments; these can be diagnosed by pathologists on lung biopsy specimens [4].

See also


  1. ^ aspiration pneumonia at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Table 13-7 in: Mitchell, Richard Sheppard; Kumar, Vinay; Abbas, Abul K.; Fausto, Nelson. Robbins Basic Pathology: With STUDENT CONSULT Online Access. Philadelphia: Saunders. ISBN 1-4160-2973-7.   8th edition.
  3. ^ Anand Swaminathan, MD. " Pneumonia, Aspiration".   Retrieved: 2007-01-20
  4. ^ Mukhopadhyay S, Katzenstein AL (2007). "Pulmonary disease due to aspiration of food and other particulate matter: a clinicopathologic study of 59 cases diagnosed on biopsy or resection specimens.". American Journal of Surgical Pathology 31 (5): 752–759. doi:10.1097/01.pas.0000213418.08009.f9. PMID 17460460.  

Simple English

Redirecting to Pneumonia


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