What is the pathophysiology of aspiration pneumonia?

Updated: Aug 15, 2018
  • Author: Justina Gamache, MD; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
  • Print
Answer

Answer

In aspiration pneumonia, an infiltrate develops in a patient at increased risk of oropharyngeal aspiration. This occurs when a patient inhales material from the oropharynx that is colonized by upper airway flora.

The risk of aspiration is indirectly related to the level of consciousness of the patient (ie, decreasing Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS; see the Glasgow Coma Scale calculator] score is related with increased risk of aspiration). [5] Aspiration of small amounts of material from the buccal cavity, particularly during sleep, is not an uncommon event. No disease ensues in healthy persons, because the aspirated material is cleared by mucociliary action and alveolar macrophages. The nature of the aspirated material, volume of the aspirated material, and state of the host defenses are three important determinants of the extent and severity of aspiration pneumonia.


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!