Pulmonary complications such as respiratory failure, pneumonia, acute lung injury, pulmonary embolism or edema, and acute respiratory distress syndrome are common problems in people who have had a severe traumatic brain injury. These problems can result from direct injury to the brain, reduced consciousness, inability to protect the airway, reduced immune response, or decreased mobility.
Clinicians should be aware of this increased risk, and have a complete understanding of diagnosis, complications, treatments, and the impact on overall outcome. Prevention and proper management of pulmonary complications after a brain injury may help limit secondary brain injury that can occur as a result of lowered oxygen levels.
Lee K & Rincon F. Pulmonary complications in patients with severe brain injury. Critical Care Research and Practice. (November 2012).