Aspiration Pneumonia & Pneumonitis

In clinical practice, these two entities are often difficult to distinguish from one another - Nancy Huynh MD

Aspiration Pneumonia & Pneumonitis
Aspiration Pneumonia & Pneumonitis

image by: NIH - Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

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Aspiration Syndromes: ED Presentation, Evaluation, and Management

Current guidelines for antibiotic choice for aspiration pneumonia recommend beta-lactam/beta-lactamase inhibitor or clindamycin as first-line with flagyl being ineffective for anaerobic coverage. However, more recent data strongly suggests that anaerobic coverage may not be needed and may be considered in certain at-risk groups, but otherwise standard pneumonia regimens can be used. Corticosteroids are NOT recommended in management of aspiration pneumonia or pneumonitis.

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 Aspiration Syndromes: ED Presentation, Evaluation, and Management

The difficulty in differentiating aspiration pneumonia and pneumonitis has proven to be a limiting factor for research exploring the two entities. As a result, there is limited available evidence providing recommendations in management


The infectious pulmonary process that occurs after abnormal entry of fluids into the lower respiratory tract is termed aspiration pneumonia. The aspirated fluid can be oropharyngeal secretions or particulate matter or can also be gastric content.

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