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January 17, 1977

Medical News

JAMA. 1977;237(3):203-213. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270300007001

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X-ray films often fail to show smoke damage to fire victims' lungs  One third of fire victims die of pulmonary damage due to smoke inhalation—damage that is not detected by standard roentgenography, says Charles E. Putman, MD, clinical director of radiology at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.Dr Putman reported the results of his study—to identify the acute roentgenographic manifestations of acute smoke inhalation—at the Chicago meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.The 21 patients aged 21 to 81 were all victims of smoke inhalation in household fires. None sustained significant body surface burns, and all were hospitalized.The most common finding, Dr Putman said, was a normal chest roentgenogram. The roentgenogram remained normal in spite of the presence of arterial hypoxemia and elevated blood carboxyhemoglobin levels. In fact, there was no correlation between the degree of hypoxemia and carbon monoxide poisoning, as