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Noncardiogenic Pulmonary Edema, Emergency Medicine

Reviewed 06/2017



  • Noncardiogenic pulmonary edema (NCPE) occurs secondary to accumulation of excess fluid and protein into the alveoli from factors other than increased pulmonary capillary pressure ...


Signs and Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Cough

  • Malaise

Physical Exam

  • Scattered rhonchi and rales

  • Hypoxia

  • Dyspnea

  • Tachypnea

  • Accessory muscle use

  • Tachycardia

  • Pink, frothy sputum

  • You will not ...



  • Patent airway

  • Adequate oxygenation

  • Cautions:

    • Patients will typically not respond to usual measures to treat CHF.

Initial Stabilization/Therapy

  • Supplemental oxygen (nasal cannula or no...



Admission Criteria

All symptomatic patients should be admitted to ICU: 
  • Symptoms may worsen at any point for up to 3 days after noxious insult.

Discharge Criteria

Asymptomatic patient...

Pearls and Pitfalls

  • Utilizing diuretics in the acute setting may worsen patient condition.

  • Failure to distinguish between cardiogenic and noncardiogenic etiologies is a pitfall as treatment is differen...

Additional Reading

  • Fagenholz  PJ, Gutman  JA, Murray  AF, et al. Treatment of high altitude pulmonary edema at 4240 m in Nepal. High Alt Med Biol.  2007;8(2):139–146.

  • Putensen  C, Theuerkauf  N, Z...



  • 506.4 Chronic respiratory conditions due to fumes and vapors

  • 508.1 Chronic and other pulmonary manifestations due to radiation

  • 508.9 Respiratory conditions due to unspecified external agent

  • 993...

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