Near drowning pulmonary edema

Near drowning pulmonary edema is considered an etiological subtype of non cardiogenic pulmonary edema. It can occur with both salt water and fresh water near-drowning.


It is thought to result from the inhalation of either fresh water or sea water resulting in lung damage and a ventilation-perfusion mismatch.

Near drowning can be divided into three stages:

  • stage 1: acute laryngospasm that occurs after inhalation of a small amount of water
  • stage 2: the victim still usually presents with laryngospasm but may begin to swallow water into the stomach
  • stage 3
    • 10-15% of patients still present with dry drowning caused by persistence of the associated laryngospasm
    • in the remaining 85-90% of patients, the laryngospasm relaxes secondary to hypoxia and large amounts of water are aspirated

Radiographic features


Features in stages 2 and 3 on chest radiographs are usually identical to pulmonary edema from other non-cardiac causes .

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