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Hydrocarbon pneumonitis following fuel siphonage: A case report and literature review

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Yi-jung Chen1, Chien-chin Hsu1,2, Kuo-tai Chen1,3


1 Emergency Department, Chi-Mei Medical Center, Tainan, Taiwan, China


2 Department of Biotechnology, Southern Tainan University of Technology, Tainan, Taiwan, China


3 Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan, China


Corresponding Author: Kuo-Tai Chen, Email: 890502@mail.chimei.org.tw


© 2019 World Journal of Emergency Medicine


DOI: 10.5847/wjem.j.1920–8642.2019.02.001


BACKGROUND: People sometimes siphon fuel to fill their tanks. However, this is a potentially dangerous procedure and may cause hydrocarbon pneumonitis. We present the case of a patient with severe hydrocarbon pneumonitis after siphoning fuel. The patient underwent artificial ventilation and was admitted to hospital for 97 days.

METHODS: We review the relevant literature for a better understanding of clinical features and management strategies for hydrocarbon pneumonitis following fuel siphonage.

RESULTS: We reviewed 15 articles, which included 3 original articles and 12 case reports that reported the clinical features of fuel siphonage. In addition, we added our presented case for data analysis. A total of 40 cases were included in this review. The literature review found that hydrocarbon pneumonitis caused by fuel siphonage occurs worldwide and that most patients (80%) became symptomatic within 1 day of aspiration. Cough (70%), chest pain (62.5%), dyspnoea (55%), and fever (52.5%) presented in more than half of all patients. The right middle lobe (80%) was the predominantly involved lung field; more than one-third of patients (36.7%) showed the involvement of two lobes.

CONCLUSION: Patient history, computed tomographic scans of the chest, and bronchoalveolar lavage are the commonly used diagnostic tools. Supportive care remains the foundation of treatment, whereas antibiotics, steroids, and bronchoalveolar lavage are practical therapies. Patients' clinical improvement precedes the resolution of lesions on chest X-ray. Most complications arise from pulmonary lesions. The prognosis of patients suffering from hydrocarbon pneumonitis following fuel siphonage might be improved by accurate diagnosis and appropriate care.

(World J Emerg Med 2019;10(2):69–74)


KEY WORDS: Siphonage; Diesel; Fuel; Aspiration; Hydrocarbon pneumonitis

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