What is smoke inhalation injury?

Updated: Oct 15, 2021
  • Author: Keith A Lafferty, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Answer

Smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death due to fires. It produces injury through several mechanisms, including thermal injury to the upper airway, irritation or chemical injury to the airways from soot, asphyxiation, and toxicity from carbon monoxide (CO) and other gases such as cyanide (CN). See the image below.

Smoke inhalation in pediatric victims. Note the ma Smoke inhalation in pediatric victims. Note the many hallmarks of smoke inhalation complexed with burn injury (ie, facial burns, carbonaceous particles in the nasal cavity, periorbital edema, hair singeing). Early endotracheal tube placement is necessary to secure patency of the upper airways and adequate ventilation.

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