Clinical outcomes and lipid-laden macrophages in Electronic cigarette/Vaping product use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) in a South Texas population

Mahnoor Mir, Moeezullah Beg, Jay I. Peters, Sandra G. Adams


Objective: To describe the clinical features, proportion of lipid-laden alveolar macrophages in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and short-term and 6-month to 12-month outcomes of patients with Electronic cigarette/Vaping product use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI).

Methods: Retrospective review of clinical characteristics, radiographs, and BAL samples for all patients with a history of vaping who presented with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure to the University Hospital in San Antonio, Texas from 9/2019 to 6/2020 was performed.

Results: We report 16 cases (15 men; median age, 30 years [range 19-75]) of EVALI with a history of vaping Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), nicotine, or both. The most common presenting symptoms were tachycardia, dyspnea, cough, and fever. All patients required supplemental oxygen, including two who required noninvasive positive pressure ventilation, and five who required mechanical ventilation. All 16 patients had bilateral ground-glass opacities (GGO) with peripheral sparing on chest computerized
tomography (CT). Cultures were negative, except for one patient who tested positive for rhinovirus. COVID-19 PCR was done in one individual which was negative. Cytology demonstrated lipid-laden macrophages on Oil-Red-O stain on fresh (i.e., without fixative) BAL in the majority of patients (N = 12) with a mean lipid-saturation percentage of 78% [range, 44%-100%] and the mean Colombo count of 194 [range, 101-359]. Fifteen patients were treated with systemic corticosteroids. The median length of hospital stay was 10 days. At discharge, three patients required supplemental oxygen. Eight of those who had follow-up imaging showed resolution of GGO. One patient had a relapse of symptoms and was again treated with systemic corticosteroids and mycophenolate, with resolution of symptoms. Fourteen patients who were evaluated after discharge denied vaping post-discharge (two patients were not able to be contacted and did not keep follow-up appointments).

Conclusions: Successful diagnosis and management of EVALI requires a high clinical suspicion, thorough evaluation to rule out infectious etiologies, and aggressive treatment with systemic corticosteroids, along with sustained abstinence from vaping.

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Discussion of Clinical Cases  ISSN 2375-8449(Print)  ISSN 2375-8473(Online)

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