What Does Pulmonary Infarction Mean - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Pulmonary infarction, also known as lung infarction, refers to the death of a lung tissue segment that is caused due to lack of blood supply. The dead segment of tissue is medically termed as infarct. The reduction in blood flow is usually caused due to an obstruction in blood vessels that serve the lungs. The obstruction may be an air bubble, or a blood clot, or a thrombus in your blood vessels. Healthy lungs give alternative routes to the blood to reach its destination, but if your lungs are already congested or infected, then a pulmonary infarction may happen due to blockage in the blood vessel. Read this oneHOWTO article to know more about what does pulmonary infarction mean, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.
Causes of Pulmonary Infarction
The most common factor that contributes to pulmonary infarction is the pulmonary embolism, which means a blood clot which has traveled to the lung or that has developed inside a blood vessel in the lung makes it difficult for proper blood circulation, thus creating a pulmonary infarction. Moreover, there are other certain lung diseases that could be causing infarction such as obstructive pulmonary disease.
In addition to that, a number of other medical conditions may also lead to pulmonary infarction, such as the following:
- an autoimmune disease like lupus
- an infection like sickle cell disease
- an infiltrative lung disease like amyloidosis
- air embolization due to an intravenous catheter or other such material
People using contraceptives, have recently been pregnant or have terminated it, take drugs or have a family history of pulmonary infraction are also more prone to this condition.
Symptoms of Pulmonary Infarction
Now that you know what pulmonary infarction is, here can be variable symptoms of this condition. Typically, it is accompanied by the following signs:
- Acute chest pain radiating from your top left side to the shoulder
- Coughing up blood
- Blood in sputum
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- Pleural rubbing, which means a kind of sound that you can hear when you breathe
- Constant hiccupping
- Excessive sweating
- Dull sound that you can hear with chest percussion
- State of shock
- Increased number of WBC or white blood cells that can be counted with blood tests
In many cases, pulmonary infarction does not produce any symptoms and the clot stays in the lung for several years without notice. An old infarction is usually diagnosed accidentally when a chest x-ray shows up a mass or nodule.
Diagnosis of Pulmonary Infarction
If you are experiencing several of the above mentioned symptoms, you should immediately contact your physician and tell him about your condition. Depending on your medical history and your individual symptoms, he may decide to conduct a number of tests to verify your condition. There are several tests that can be conducted to diagnose pulmonary infarction, including:
- D-dimer test
- Arterial or capillary blood gas
- Blood test that reveals increased WBC
- Chest x-ray
- Chest CT scan
- CT pulmonary angiography
- Ventilation or perfusion scan
Pulmonary infarction treatment options
Treatment of this condition is a combination of management and supportive care. As far as supportive care is concerned, it includes providing ample blood oxygenation by way of oxygen administration, and pain control to ease breathing. If sufficient oxygen cannot be maintained in the blood by way of face mask or nasal cannula, then the patient will be placed on ventilator will need intubation.
Other treatment options depend on the underlying cause of the condition. If the infarction is caused due to an infection or sickle cell disease, then aggressive treatment procedure will be applied to get rid of the condition as soon as possible. There are different treatment options if the pulmonary infarction is caused due to cancer, or an autoimmune disease. So, the treatment procedure used for the patient largely depends on the cause of the condition.
Since the major cause of pulmonary infarction is pulmonary embolus, the treatment for this condition includes supportive care, in addition to administration of anticoagulant medicines, commonly with heparin given intravenously. Once the condition starts improving, the treatment changes to oral anticoagulant administration.
In cases of massive pulmonary embolus that produce large pulmonary infarction, the flow of blood to the lungs can be so low that the cardiac productivity starts dropping. In such a situation, it becomes necessary to administer clot-busting medicines. These medicines aim at dissolving the clots that might be obstructing the flow of blood. Although such medicines have serious side effects, they outweigh the risk of death due to acute pulmonary infarction.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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