Lung - nontumor
Other nonneoplastic disease
Intravenous drug abusers

Topic Completed: 1 December 2011

Revised: 30 January 2019, last major update December 2011

Copyright: (c) 2003-2018,, Inc.

PubMed search: pulmonary intravenous drug abuse

Elliot Weisenberg, M.D.
Page views in 2019: 474
Page views in 2020 to date: 262
Cite this page: Weisenberg E. Intravenous drug abusers. website. Accessed May 28th, 2020.
Clinical features
  • Often incidental findings at autopsy or biopsy
  • Lesions due to injection of insoluble fillers of oral mediation, which lodge in small pulmonary arteries; may include crospovidone, talc, cornstarch or microcrystalline cellulose with characteristic findings
  • All but cornstarch persist indefinitely
  • Patients may have dyspnea or hypoxia; due to related infection, pulmonary edema, diffuse alveolar damage, vasculopathy leading to pulmonary hypertension or interstitial fibrosis
  • Chest xray usually shows a micronodular pattern
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Fresh or organizing arterial thrombi with foreign material
  • Perivascular foreign body granulomas contain birefringent foreign material resembling starch, talc or other materials
  • May be associated with acute vasculitis, interstitial inflammation and fibrosis
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Polarized light

Back to top