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A case of naltrexone-induced acute eosinophilic pneumonia
  1. Youmna Abdelghany1,2,
  2. Danielle Renee Glick1 and
  3. Todd Cutler3
  1. 1 Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  2. 2 Department of Internal Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, New York, USA
  3. 3 Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Youmna Abdelghany; yabdelghany{at}


Acute eosinophilic pneumonia (AEP) is a rare cause of acute respiratory failure. Clinical presentations can range from dyspnoea, fever and cough, to rapidly progressive and potentially fulminant respiratory failure. While its exact cause is often unknown, associations with inhalational injuries and exposures to new medications have been described.

We report a case of a middle-aged, non-smoking man with a history of alcohol use disorder. He presented with 4 days of shortness of breath that started hours after taking injectable naltrexone (Vivitrol). The patient had rapidly worsening hypoxaemia, necessitating emergent bronchoscopy with transbronchial biopsies and bronchoalveolar lavage which showed 66% eosinophils. The patient was intubated for the procedure and unable to get extubated due to worsening hypoxaemic respiratory failure with high fractional inspired oxygen requirements. Chest radiograph showed worsening lung infiltrates and with a high index of suspicion for AEP, he was started empirically on methylprednisolone. He had rapid improvement in his respiratory status and was extubated on day 5 of admission then discharged on day 8. Histopathological examination confirmed acute/subacute eosinophilic pneumonia. A 3-week post-discharge follow-up chest radiograph confirmed the full resolution of pulmonary infiltrates.

Naltrexone-induced AEP is rare, with only six other cases reported in the literature. Careful history taking and prompt evaluation for AEP are important given the potential for rapid progression to acute hypoxic respiratory failure and the excellent response to steroid treatment.

  • Respiratory system
  • Intensive care
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Drugs: respiratory system

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  • Contributors The following authors were responsible for drafting of the text, sourcing and editing of clinical images, investigation results, drawing original diagrams and algorithms, and critical revision for important intellectual content—YA and TC. DRG and TC provided critical analysis and discussions. All authors reviewed and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Case reports provide a valuable learning resource for the scientific community and can indicate areas of interest for future research. They should not be used in isolation to guide treatment choices or public health policy.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.