SIU School of Medicine

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Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine

Inhalational Airway Injury During Illicit Methamphetamine Production

Kamaljit Dhaliwal, MD, Resident & Akshay Sood, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine

Case Presentation
Photograph of Skin Burns
Chest X-ray Portable Anteroposterior View

A 35 year old white male with no significant past medical history was transferred from a small rural town in Illinois to the Regional Burns Unit at the University hospital. The patient was a farmer’s son and a 20 pack-year smoker. He was involved in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine in the basement of his home. Subsequent explosion resulted in 16 % TBSA burn involving face, neck and hands, difficulty with breathing and vision.

Before transfer to the Burns Unit, the patient was intubated in the field by the paramedics, his eyes were irrigated with water, and a nasogastric tube and an indwelling urinary catheter was placed. His examination in the Burns Unit showed conjunctival erythema; lacrimation, thick nasal discharge, wheezing, throat and second degree skin burns (see Figure 1). His Laboratory reports were within normal limits. His arterial blood gases drawn on Assist Control mode of ventilation with a tidal volume of 8 cc/kg. body weight, respiratory rate of 12/minute, peep of 5 and FiO2 of 40% showed a pH of 7.48 and a PaCO2 of 32 mms. of Hg. and PaO2 of 70 mms. of Hg. His chest X-ray portable anteroposterior view is shown in Figure 2.


Figure 1: Photograph of skin burns


Figure 2: Chest X-ray portable anteroposterior view



Question 1:

Which ONE of the following is a possible cause of chemical inhalational lung injury during production of illicit methamphetamine?


Question 2:

Which ONE of the following BEST describes the pathophysiology of the tissue injury caused by this chemical?

Question 3:

Which ONE of the following is not seen during the bronchoscopic examination of this patient’s airways?

Question 4:

Which ONE of the following statements is false?

Question 5:

Which ONE of the following may NOT be useful in the management of this patient?

Question 6:

Which ONE of the following is LEAST likely to be a late sequela of this exposure?


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