A few years ago in the Emergency Department I managed a sick hypotensive, hypoxic 20-something year old with a unilateral lung white-out and air bronchograms as pneumonia/septic shock. He died subsequently of refractory pulmonary oedema on the ICU, where the diagnosis of acute pulmonary oedema due to severe aortic stenosis was delayed. Post mortem findings showed pulmonary oedema but no pneumonia. A kind radiologist told me the chest x-ray would certainly have fitted with pneumonia. After this case I learned to echo sick hypotensive patients in the ED.
Circulation reports 869 cardiogenic pulmonary oedema patients, of which 2.1% had unilateral pulmonary oedema (UPE). In patients with UPE, blood pressure was significantly lower (P<=0.01), whereas noninvasive or invasive ventilation and catecholamines were used more frequently (P=0.0004 and P<0.0001, respectively). The prevalence of severe mitral regurgitation in patients with bilateral pulmonary edema and UPE was 6% and 100%, respectively (P<0.0001). In patients with UPE, use of antibiotic therapy and delay in treatment were significantly higher (P<0.0001 and P=0.003, respectively). In-hospital mortality was 9%: 39% for UPE versus 8% for bilateral pulmonary edema (odds ratio, 6.9; 95% confidence interval, 2.6 to 18; P<0.001). In multivariate analysis, unilateral location of pulmonary edema was independently related to death.
Prevalence, Characteristics, and Outcomes of Patients Presenting With Cardiogenic Unilateral Pulmonary Edema
Circulation. 2010 Sep 14;122(11):1109-15