Cough, new chest infiltrates in imaging studies and reduced lung diffusing capacity in the appropriate clinical setting of amiodarone use, after the meticulous exclusion of infection, malignancy and pulmonary oedema, are the cardinal clinical and laboratory elements for diagnosis.






Content 12


Amiodarone, a bi-iodinated benzofuran derivative, is, because of its high effectiveness, one of the most widely used antiarrhythmic agents.







However, adverse effects, especially potentially fatal and non-reversible acute and chronic pulmonary toxicity, continue to be observed.

This review provides an update of the epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, treatment and outcome of amiodarone pulmonary effects and toxicity.

Amiodarone-related adverse pulmonary effects may develop as early as from the first few days of treatment to several years later. The onset of pulmonary toxicity may be either insidious or rapidly progressive.

Pulmonary involvement falls into two categories of different grades of clinical significance: (i) the ubiquitous 'lipoid pneumonia', the so-called 'amiodarone effect', which is usually asymptomatic; and (ii) the more appropriately named 'amiodarone toxicity', which includes several distinct clinical entities related to the differing patterns of lung inflammatory reaction, such as eosinophilic pneumonia, chronic organizing pneumonia, acute fibrinous organizing pneumonia, nodules or mass-like lesions, nonspecific interstitial pneumonia-like and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis-like interstitial pneumonia, desquamative interstitial pneumonia, acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and diffuse alveolar haemorrhage. Pleural/pericardial involvement may be observed. Three different and intertwined mechanisms of lung toxicity have been suggested: (i) a direct toxic effect; (ii) an immune-mediated mechanism; and (iii) the angiotensin enzyme system activation. Mortality ranges from 9% for those who develop chronic pneumonia to 50% for those who develop ARDS. Discontinuation of the drug, control of risk factors and, in the more severe cases, corticosteroids may be of therapeutic value. Supportive measures for supervening ARDS in the intensive care setting may become necessary

Lung adverse effects occur in approximately 5% of treated patients. The development of lung complications appears to be associated with older age, duration of treatment and cumulative dosage, high levels of its desethyl metabolite, history of cardiothoracic surgery and/or use of high oxygen mixtures, use of iodinated contrast media, and probably pre-existing lung disease as well as co-existing respiratory infections.1




Complications of Injecting Drug Use

  • Local problems—Abscess (Figures 240-2 
    Image not available.

    A 32-year-old woman with type 1 diabetes developed large abscesses all over her body secondary to injection of cocaine and heroin. Her back shows the large scars remaining after the healing of these abscesses. (Courtesy of ­Richard P. Usatine, MD.)

    and 240-3; Abscess), cellulitis, septic thrombophlebitis, local induration, necrotizing fasciitis, gas gangrene, pyomyositis, mycotic aneurysm, compartmental syndromes, and foreign bodies (e.g., broken needle parts) in local areas.2
    • IDUs are at higher risk of getting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) skin infections that the patient may think are spider bites (Figure 240-4).
    • Some IDUs give up trying to inject into their veins and put the cocaine directly into the skin. This causes local skin necrosis that produces round atrophic scars (Figure 240-5).
  • IDUs are at risk for contracting systemic infections, including HIV and hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
    • Injecting drug users are at risk of endocarditis, osteomyelitis (Figures 240-6and 240-7), and an abscess of the epidural region. These infections can lead to long hospitalizations for intravenous antibiotics. The endocarditis that occurs in IDUs involves the right-sided heart valves (see Chapter 50, Bacterial Endocarditis).2 They are also at risk of septic emboli to the lungs, group A β-hemolytic streptococcal septicemia, septic arthritis, and candidal and other fungal infections.


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A 75-year-old triathlete complains of gradually worsening vision over the past year. It seems to be involving near and far vision. The patient has never required corrective lenses and has no significant medical history other than diet-controlled hypertension. He takes no regular medications. Physical examination is normal except for bilateral visual acuity of 20/100. There are no focal visual field defects and no redness of the eyes or eyelids. Which of the following is the most likely diagnosis?

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The correct answer is A. You answered A.

Age-related macular degeneration is a major cause of painless, gradual bilateral central visual loss. It occurs as nonexudative (dry) or exudative (wet) forms. Recent genetic data have shown an association with the alternative complement pathway gene for complement factor H. The mechanism link for that association is unknown. The nonexudative form is associated with retinal drusen that leads to retinal atrophy. Treatment with vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc may retard the visual loss. Exudative macular degeneration, which is less common, is caused by neovascular proliferation and leakage of choroidal blood vessels. Acute visual loss may occur because of bleeding. Exudative macular degeneration may be treated with intraocular injection of a vascular endothelial growth factor antagonist (bevacizumab or ranibizumab). Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids usually related to acne rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, or staphylococcal infection. Diabetic retinopathy, now a leading cause of blindness in the United States, causes gradual bilateral visual loss in patients with long-standing diabetes. Retinal detachment is usually unilateral and causes visual loss and an afferent pupillary defect.


Mr. Jenson is a 40-year-old man with a congenital bicuspid aortic valve who you have been seeing for more than a decade. You obtain an echocardiogram every other year to follow the progression of his disease knowing that bicuspid valves often develop stenosis or regurgitation requiring replacement in middle age. Given his specific congenital abnormality, what other anatomic structure is important to follow on his biannual echocardiograms?

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The correct answer is A. You answered A.

The answer is A. (Chap. 282) Bicuspid aortic valve is among the most common of congenital heart cardiac abnormalities. Valvular function is often normal in early life and thus may escape detection. Due to abnormal flow dynamics through the bicuspid aortic valve, the valve leaflets can become rigid and fibrosed, leading to either stenosis or regurgitation. However, pathology in patients with bicuspid aortic valve is not limited to the valve alone. The ascending aorta is often dilated, misnamed “poststenotic” dilatation; this is due to histologic abnormalities of the aortic media and may result in aortic dissection. It is important to screen specifically for aortopathy because dissection is a common cause of sudden death in these patients.



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