Objective To provide rhinologic surgeons with an understanding of acute negative-pressure pulmonary edema (NPPE) and its treatment.
Design Case report and literature review of all published adult cases of NPPE. Patient factors, anesthetic variables, and outcomes are assessed.
Results A total of 146 cases in 45 case reports and series were compiled. There was approximately a 2:1 male-female patient ratio. The average age of the patients was 33 years. Fifty percent of patients had surgery on the upper aerodigestive tract, and 8% had intranasal surgery. No patients received laryngotracheal anesthesia, and 5 of the 146 received intravenous lidocaine prior to extubation. One patient had NPPE following laryngeal mask airway treatment, and 2 patients experienced this complication after conversion from monitored anesthesia care to general endotracheal anesthesia; 33.5% of patients were treated with continuous positive airway pressure alone, while 66.5% required intubation and mechanical ventilation. The average time to resolution was 11.75 hours. Three patients died.
Conclusions It is known that surgical procedures involving the upper aerodigestive tract have a higher risk of NPPE than other procedures. Rapid diagnosis and treatment is necessary to achieve early resolution and avoid significant patient morbidity. A thorough understanding is integral to the practice of nasal and paranasal sinus surgery, especially with the rising use of outpatient and office-based surgical suites. Therefore, we present a review of pathophysiologic mechanisms, possible risk factors, treatment options, and potential steps that can be taken to minimize this potentially devastating complication of general anesthesia.