Crack lung

Dr Bruno Di Muzio and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Crack lung is a term used to describe an acute pulmonary injury related to smoked crack cocaine.

On imaging, it is characterized by interstitial and alveolar lung opacities with a diffuse distribution and commonly involving the perihilar regions. 

Patients present with sympathetic hyperactivity such as tachycardia, hypertension, dilated pupils, and chest pain, productive cough, dyspnea, and hypoxemia along with fever, hemoptysis, and respiratory failure 1,3

Histological changes include 1:

  • diffuse alveolar damage
  • alveolar hemorrhage
  • interstitial/alveolar infiltration by inflammatory cells, typically eosinophils as well as peripheral eosinophilia (up to 40%)

Reported features are nonspecific and include 2,3,4:

Mild cases resolve with conservative management and severe cases are usually treated with corticosteroids 1

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Article information

rID: 33276
System: Chest
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Respiratory complications of smoked crack cocaine

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: plain radiograph
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  • Case 1: CT
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  • Case 2
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  • Case 3
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