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Article
April 1971

Acute Pulmonary InsufficiencyTreatment in Vietnam Casualties

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC; Phoenixville, Pa
From the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Service, Walter Reed General Hospital, Washington, DC (Dr. Geiger); and the Thoracic Surgery Service, Valley Forge General Hospital, Phoenixville, Pa (Dr. Gielchinsky).

Arch Surg. 1971;102(4):400-405. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1971.01350040162031
Abstract

Acute pulmonary insufficiency was observed in nonthoracic trauma, hemorrhagic shock, fat embolism, blast injury, pulmonary contusion, thermal burns, and sepsis. In the period July 1969 through June 1970 this syndrome was successfully reversed in 21 casualties in Vietnam varying in ages from 10 to 45 years. All manifested marked respiratory distress or hypoxemia and improved dramatically on a program of therapy that was developed to counteract each of the pathophysiologic changes thought to occur in this syndrome. Regardless of the immediate precipitating etiology, a number of common factors were found to be present: pulmonary hypertension, capillary obstruction with increased permeability and fluid extravasation, and pulmonary shunting. The therapeutic program consisted of (1) fluid restriction consistent with adequate resuscitation, (2) diuretics, (3) controlled positive pressure ventilation, (4) steroids, (5) heparin sodium, (6) antibiotics, (7) chlorpromazine hydrochloride, and (8) sedation. This regimen was effective in 21 out of 25 cases (86%) treated and is in marked contrast to the previous fatality rates of 50% to 90%.

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