Acute lung injury (ALI) is more common and even more deadly than previous reports suggested, according to a new study. A syndrome consisting of acute hypoxemic respiratory failure with bilateral pulmonary infiltrates, ALI is associated with both pneumonia and nonpulmonary risk factors. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a subtype of ALI characterized by more severe hypoxemia.
Researchers tallied clinical outcomes among 1,113 patients in King County, Wash., in a 15-month period. The patients, age 15 and older, were all being treated with mechanical ventilation for ALI. The overall in-hospital death rate from ALI was 38.5%. Incidence and mortality increased with age. Mortality ranged from 24% for patients ages 15 through 19 to 60% for those age 85 or more. The researchers estimate that ALI accounts for more than 74,000 deaths and 3.6 million hospital days each year.
Incidence and outcomes of acute lung injury, The New England Journal of Medicine, GD Rubenfeld, et al., October 20, 2005.