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Neurogenic Pulmonary Edema Follow-up

  • Author: Tej K Naik, MD; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
Updated: Dec 31, 2015

Further Outpatient Care

No specific recommendations for outpatient follow up are needed for persons who have been treated for neurogenic pulmonary edema. Patients who recover should probably follow up with a physician in an outpatient setting as clinically indicated; however, no specific guidelines are available regarding the appropriate time interval following discharge from the hospital. In general, patients with neurogenic pulmonary edema do not present as outpatients and should not be treated in an outpatient setting.


Further Inpatient Care

Neurological insults severe enough to cause neurogenic pulmonary edema (NPE) always warrant admission to hospital. Most patients require close cardiac monitoring, requiring initial admission to a monitored bed. A telemetry unit or step-down unit bed may suffice for less severe cases. Intensive care admission may be required if patients develop increasingly severe hypoxemia or respiratory distress, or if invasive monitoring is required.


Inpatient & Outpatient Medications

No specific recommendations for outpatient medications are needed for neurogenic pulmonary edema. See Medical Care.



Patients with neurogenic pulmonary edema generally have multiple comorbidities that dictate the setting in which they are receiving care. Transfer between levels of acute care (ie, ICU to transitional care units, and subsequently to general medical/surgical ward) is influenced by a variety of factors. The most important of these is likely the underlying neurological insult that led to the development of pulmonary edema. Once this is managed and stabilized, further transitions between level of care are dictated by clinical circumstances. These include an ongoing need for mechanical ventilation, hemodynamic parameters, and the need for regular neurologic monitoring.



Prevention is primarily aimed at interventions that help avoid or relieve the neurological insults that subsequently lead to pulmonary edema. Current understanding is limited as to which patients are likely to develop pulmonary edema as a result of neurological injury. Given this lack of understanding, predicting who will develop pulmonary edema and determining what measures can then be undertaken to prevent its occurrence are difficult.



Complications include but are not limited to the following:

  • Prolonged hypoxic respiratory failure
  • Hemodynamic instability
  • Nosocomial infections (ie, related to prolonged mechanical ventilation and hospitalization)
  • Death


Neurogenic pulmonary edema usually is generally well tolerated by the patient, although some patients require ventilatory support. The neurogenic pulmonary edema usually resolves within 48-72 hours. Prognosis is determined more by the course of the underlying neurological problem than by the neurogenic pulmonary edema, unless significant respiratory complications develop.


Patient Education

For excellent patient education resources, visit eMedicineHealth's Brain and Nervous System Center. Also, see eMedicineHealth's patient education article Stroke.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Tej K Naik, MD Partner, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Kaiser Foundation Hospital, Fontana, California and Kaiser Foundation Hospital, Ontario, CA

Tej K Naik, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine; Director, Medical Intensive Care Unit, Pulmonary and Critical Care Section, West Los Angeles Healthcare Center, Veteran Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Thoracic Society, Society of Critical Care Medicine, California Thoracic Society, American Association for Respiratory Care

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Harold L Manning, MD Professor, Departments of Medicine, Anesthesiology and Physiology, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School

Harold L Manning, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP Geri and Richard Brawerman Chair in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Professor and Executive Vice Chairman, Department of Medicine, Medical Director, Women's Guild Lung Institute, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Federation for Medical Research, American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Cory Franklin, MD Professor, Department of Medicine, Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science; Director, Division of Critical Care Medicine, Cook County Hospital

Cory Franklin, MD is a member of the following medical societies: New York Academy of Sciences, Society of Critical Care Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Sat Sharma, MD, FRCPC Professor and Head, Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba; Site Director, Respiratory Medicine, St Boniface General Hospital

Sat Sharma, MD, FRCPC is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, American Thoracic Society, Canadian Medical Association, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Royal Society of Medicine, Society of Critical Care Medicine, and World Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Neurogenic pulmonary edema in a patient with a subdural hematoma.
Progression of neurogenic pulmonary edema in the same patient in the image above, with subdural hematoma (day 2).
Factors leading to the development of neurogenic pulmonary edema in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage.
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