Surviving ARDS: A Case of Recurrent Illicit Drug-Induced ARDS

Nathan J. Smischney, Kelly A. Cawcutt, Kannan Ramar, Rahul Kashyap


Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a severe manifestation of abnormal pulmonary gas exchange. Many patients in whom this clinical syndrome develops are critically ill, and most do not recover. However, the critical care physician is likely to encounter more patients who have survived this clinical syndrome with recent improvements in the treatment related to this clinical entity. We describe a unique case of a patient who survived multiple episodes of ARDS. We illustrate potential etiologies relating to the multiple ARDS episodes and the recognition of illicit drug use as one of the pathophysiologic factors of recurrent ARDS. We highlight certain diagnostic clues in the patients history that may alert the intensivist to the diagnosis of ARDS related to illicit drug use.

J Med Cases. 2014;5(1):11-14


Acute respiratory distress syndrome; Crack cocaine; Heroin; Illicit drug; Intensive care unit; Recurrent; Surviving

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