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Sept 11, 1967

Respiratory Insufficiency Following Near-Drowning in Sea Water

Author Affiliations

From the Royal North Shore Hospital of Sydney, Australia. Dr. Warden is now a research fellow, Department of Anesthesia, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1967;201(11):887-890. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130110113039

After initial resuscitation, severe respiratory insufficiency jeopardized the recovery of a youth who nearly drowned in sea water. Lung compliance decreased to between 20% and 30% of normal for three days, and there was a persistent hypoxia. Marked roentgenographic changes in the lungs resolved almost completely over a three-day period. It is concluded that the respiratory insufficiency was due to a pneumonitis resulting from the aspiration of sea water, and that neither pulmonary edema nor reflex airway closure played a significant role.