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Smoke Inhalation Injury

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Smoke Inhalation Injury, Smoke Inhalation, Inhalation Injury

  • Epidemiology
  1. Leading cause of death from Burn Injury (responsible for 50-80% of burn-related deaths)
  • Pathophysiology
  1. Upper airway is typically affected (except in steam inhalation which can affect sub-glottic airway)
  2. Inhalation injuries are mediated by chemical lung injury (not typically heat)
    1. Results in large volume fluid influx into the lungs
  • Signs
  • Findings suggestive of Smoke Inhalation
  1. Full thickness facial burns
  2. Burn Injury occuring in a confined space
  3. Sputum with soot (carbonaceous Sputum)
  4. Hoarseness or Stridor
  5. Bullae in oropharynx or Larynx
  6. Cough
  • Signs
  • Respiratory distress (late findings)
  1. Dyspnea
  2. Tachypnea
  3. Wheezing
  4. Rhonchi
  5. Nasal flaring or chest retractions
  • Labs
  1. Arterial Blood Gas
  2. Serum Lactic Acid
    1. Increased with cyanide Poisoning
    2. No specific Cyanide lab testing in most clinical settings
  3. Carboxyhemoglobin level
    1. Increased with Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  4. Complete Blood Count
  5. Consider serum Troponin
    1. Indicated for Chest Pain, EKG changes or increased cardiovascular risk
  • Imaging
  • Complications
  1. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  2. Cyanide Poisoning
    1. Results from inhalation of burning materials (e.g. wool, silk, polyurethane, and vinyl)
  3. Methemoglobinemia
  4. Respiratory injury
    1. Causes Hypoxia, airway edema, airway obstruction and ARDS
  • Evaluation
  1. Altered Mental Status
    1. Burn Injury is typically associated with alert, Agitated Patient in pain
    2. Decreased level of conciousness suggests other cause
      1. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
      2. Cyanide Poisoning
      3. Trauma
  • Management
  1. See Burn Injury
  2. Monitoring
    1. Intravenous Access
    2. Oxygen Saturation monitoring
    3. Telemetry monitoring
  3. Interventions: Airway
    1. Supplemental Oxygen 100% Non-Rebreathing Mask
      1. Continue until Carboxyhemoglobin <5%
      2. Carbon Monoxide decreases 50% in 60 minutes on Non-Rebreather Mask
      3. Carbon Monoxide decreases 50% in 30 minutes on 100% oxygen while intubated
    2. Consider hyperbaric oxygen (see indications below)
    3. Consider Advanced Airway and Mechanical Ventilations
      1. Monitor upper airway closely and prophylactically intubate early if airway compromise is suspected
      2. Mechanical Ventilation settings
        1. Keep Tidal Volumes at 3-5 ml/kg
        2. Keep plateau pressures <30 cm H2O
        3. Administer PEEP
      3. Rapid Sequence Intubation precautions
        1. Succinylcholine is safe in acute Burn Injury (Hyperkalemia risk starts at 5 days post-injury)
      4. Endotracheal Tube precautions
        1. Place at least a 7.5 Endotracheal Tube (otherwise more difficult suctioning, bronchoscopy)
    4. Intubation indications
      1. Includes all standard intubation indications
        1. See Advanced Airway
        2. Respiratory Failure
        3. Unprotected airway
      2. Expectation of further tracheal edema within next 24 hours
      3. Hoarseness or increasing Stridor
      4. Severe Third Degree Burns to face
      5. Prolonged transport and tenuous airway status
      6. Carbon Monoxide >20% may require intubation due to Hypoxemia
  4. Other interventions
    1. Intravenous crystalloid
      1. See Burn Management (includes Parkland Formula)
      2. Maintain urinary output of 0.5 to 1 mL/kg/hour
    2. Opioid Analgesics
    3. Bronchodilators (e.g. Albuterol) for Asthma Exacerbation (i.e. Wheezing)
    4. Systemic Corticosteroids may be indicated in certain inhalations
      1. Examples: Nitrogen oxide, Zinc Oxide, sulfur trioxide, titanium tetrachloride
      2. Discuss with poison control, pulmonology or burn center
    5. Cyanokit (IV Hydroxycobalamin)
      1. Indications (Paris Fire Brigade Protocol)
        1. Known Smoke Inhalation in an enclosed space AND
        2. One of the following criteria
          1. Altered Mental Status
          2. Soot in nares or mouth
          3. Full cardiopulmonary arrest (without full body burns incompatible with life)
      2. Dosing
        1. Hydroxycobalamin (Vitamin B12a) 5 grams IV over 15 minutes
      3. Efficacy
        1. Resulted in 50% ROSC rate in full arrest Smoke Inhalation patients
        2. Much safer empiric therapy than the Lily Kit (Methemoglobinemia, Hypotension)
      4. References
        1. Fortin (2006) Clin Toxicol 44 (suppl 1):37-44 +PMID:16990192 [PubMed]
        2. Borron (2007) Ann Emerg Med 49(6): 794-801 +PMID:17481777 [PubMed]
  • Disposition
  1. Monitor in Emergency Department for at least 4-6 hours
    1. Observe with serial exams, Vital Signs and diagnostics
    2. Discharge with close interval follow-up if normal observation without significant airway symptoms
  2. Hospitalization indications
    1. Enclosed space inhalation exposure for >10 minutes
    2. Sputum with soot
    3. pAO2 <60 mmHg
    4. Metabolic Acidosis
      1. Increased Anion Gap and Lactic Acidosis with cyanide Poisoning
    5. Carboxyhemoglobin >15%
    6. A-a Gradient >100 mmHg on 100% Supplemental Oxygen
    7. Significant symptoms or signs (Central facial burns, painful swallowing or bronchospasm)
  3. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy indications
    1. Base Excess < -2 mmol/L
    2. Carboxyhemoglobin >25% (or >15% in pregnancy, in which fetal Hemoglobin is more CO avid)
    3. Cerebellar symptoms (e.g. Ataxia)
    4. Pulmonary edema
    5. Cardiac arrhythmia or Acute Coronary Syndrome
    6. Very young or very old
  • References
  1. Lafferty in Alcock (2013) Smoke Inhalation Injury, Medscape EMedicine (accessed 12/11/2013)
  2. Latenser in Bope (2011) Burn Treatment Guidelines, Conn's Current Therapy, Elsevier, p. 1151
  3. Schwartz in Cydulka (2011) Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine 7ed, McGraw Hill, New York (accessed 12/11/2013)
    1. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6385384