What is the mortality rate of aspiration pneumonia?

Updated: Aug 15, 2018
  • Author: Justina Gamache, MD; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Answer

Answer

A retrospective study found the 30-day mortality rate in aspiration pneumonia to be 21% overall and 29.7% in hospital-associated aspiration pneumonia. [9] This mortality range depends on complications of the disease.

In Mendelson's original series in 1946, Mendelson described 61 obstetric patients who aspirated gastric acid during anesthesia, all of whom had a complete clinical recovery within 24-36 hours. [31] In subsequent studies, which have included older sicker patients, chemical pneumonia has a reported mortality rate of 30-62%, because chemical pneumonia often leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The mortality rate for severe chemical pneumonitis (Mendelson syndrome) can be up to 70%.

If bacterial aspiration pneumonia is not treated early, it can lead to development of complications, including lung abscess and bronchopleural fistula. Nosocomial pneumonia is associated with a longer period of hospitalization and increased mortality rates.

The mortality rate for aspiration pneumonia complicated by empyema is approximately 20%. The mortality for uncomplicated pneumonia is approximately 5%. An animal model study demonstrated that mice with aspiration pneumonitis were more susceptible to subsequent respiratory infection with certain pathogens. [32]


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