Acute respiratory distress syndrome resulting from inhalation of powdered copper

Alejandro Donoso, Pablo Cruces, Jorge Camacho, Juan Carlos Ríos, Enrique Paris, Juan Jose Mieres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Copper is an essential element. Poisoning with elemental copper is infrequent and manifestations rarely include the ones that our case presented. Case report. A previously healthy 2-year-old female patient unintentionally inhaled copper dust, developed respiratory failure a few hours later, and required mechanical ventilation. On hospital day three, the patient developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and was treated with high-frequency oscillatory ventilation for six days. She also developed hemolytic anemia, liver failure, oliguric renal failure, and evidence of acute tubular injury. During her stay in the intensive care unit she received inotropic support, packed red cells transfusion, and diuretics. A sample of bronchoalveolar lavage showed macrophages that stained positive for copper. Serum and urine copper concentrations were within the normal range after several days. Extubation was successfully achieved after two weeks and the patient was discharged on day 30 without sequelae. This is the first report of acute respiratory distress syndrome secondary to copper aspiration in a pediatric patient. Conclusion. To our knowledge, this is the first case reported of acute respiratory distress syndrome secondary to elemental copper aspiration. It is important to the clinician to be aware of acute respiratory distress syndrome as a differential diagnosis to copper aspiration by treating the patient aggressively in an adequate clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-716
Number of pages3
JournalClinical Toxicology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007


  • ARDS
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Children poisoning
  • Copper poisoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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