Management of phosgene-induced acute lung injury.

Phosgene is a substance of immense importance in the chemical industry. Because of its widespread industrial use, there is potential for small-scale exposures within the workplace, large-scale accidental release, or even deliberate release into a built-up area.
This review aims to examine all published studies concerning potential treatments for phosgene-induced acute lung injury and incorporate them into up-to-date clinical guidance. In addition, it aims to contrast the approaches when dealing with small numbers of patients known to be exposed (possibly with dose information) with the presentation of a large and heterogeneous population of casualties following a significant industrial accident or deliberate release; no published guidelines have specifically addressed this second problem.
PubMed and Embase were searched for all available years till April 2010 and 584 papers were identified and considered.
Because of the nature of the injury, there have been no human trials of patients exposed to phosgene. Multiple small and large animal studies have been performed to examine potential treatments of phosgene-induced acute lung injury, but many of these used isolated organ models, pretreatment regimens, or clinically improbable doses. Recent studies in large animals using both realistic time frames and dosing regimens have improved our knowledge, but clinical guidance remains based on incomplete data. Management of a small-scale, confirmed exposure. In the circumstance of a small-scale, confirmed industrial release where a few individuals are exposed and present rapidly, an intravenous bolus of high-dose corticosteroid (e.g., methylprednisolone 1 g) should be considered, although there are no experimental data to support this recommendation. The evidence is that there is no benefit from nebulized steroid even when administered 1 h after exposure, or methylprednisolone if administered intravenously ≥6 h after exposure. Consideration should also be given to administration of nebulized acetylcysteine 1-2 g, though there is no substantive evidence of benefit outside a small animal, isolated lung model and there is a possibility of adverse effects. If the oxygen saturation falls below 94%, patients should receive the lowest concentration of supplemental oxygen to maintain their SaO(2) in the normal range. Once patients require oxygen, nebulized β-agonists [e.g., salbutamol (albuterol) 5 mg by nebulizer every 4 h] may reduce lung inflammation if administered within 1 h of exposure. Elective intubation should be considered early using an ARDSnet protective ventilation strategy. Management of a large-scale, non-confirmed exposure. In the circumstances of a large-scale industrial or urban release, not all patients presenting will have been exposed and health services are likely to be highly stretched. In this situation, patients should not be treated immediately as there is no evidence that delaying therapy causes harm, rather they should be rested and observed with regular physical examination and measurement of peripheral oxygen saturations. Once a patient's oxygen saturation falls below 94%, treatment with the lowest concentration of oxygen required to maintain their oxygen saturations in the normal range should be started. Once oxygen has been started, nebulized β-agonists [e.g., salbutamol (albuterol) 5 mg by nebulizer every 4 h] may reduce lung inflammation if administered within 1 h of exposure, though delayed administration which is likely following a large-scale release has not been tested formally. There is no benefit from nebulized steroid even when administered 1 h after exposure, or high-dose corticosteroid if administered intravenously ≥6 h after exposure. Although there are no experimental data to support this recommendation, an intravenous bolus of high-dose corticosteroid (e.g., methylprednisolone 1 g) may be considered if presentation is <6 h and resources allow. Depending on the numbers of casualties presenting, invasive ventilation should be initiated either electively once symptoms present (especially where there is a short latent period, indicating likelihood of more significant injury), or delayed until required. Ventilation should be with high positive end expiratory pressure, ARDSnet recommended ventilation.
The mechanisms underlying the phosgene-induced acute lung injury are not well understood. Future experimental work should ensure that potential treatments are tested in a large animal model using realistic dosing regimens and clinically relevant timings, such as those that might be found in a mass casualty situation.
AuthorsChristopher Grainge, Paul Rice
JournalClinical toxicology (Philadelphia, Pa.) (Clin Toxicol (Phila)) Vol. 48 Issue 6 Pg. 497-508 (Jul 2010) ISSN: 1556-9519 [Electronic] England
PMID20849339 (Publication Type: Journal Article, Review)
Chemical References
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antioxidants
  • Phosgene
  • Furosemide
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Oxygen
  • Acetylcysteine
  • Acetylcysteine (therapeutic use)
  • Acute Lung Injury (chemically induced, drug therapy)
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones (therapeutic use)
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal (therapeutic use)
  • Antioxidants (metabolism)
  • Cyclic AMP (physiology)
  • Furosemide (therapeutic use)
  • Humans
  • Oxygen (therapeutic use)
  • Phosgene (toxicity)

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