Background: Lipoid pneumonia is a pneumonitis resulting from the aspiration of lipids, and is commonly associated with the use of mineral oil as a laxative. LP is relatively unfamiliar to clinicians and is probably underdiagnosed.
Objectives: To increase physicians' awareness of LP, its diagnosis and prevention.
Methods: We present two illustrative cases of LP and review the literature.
Results: Two cases of LP were diagnosed within half a year in an internal medicine ward. Both cases were elderly patients, and LP was associated with the use of mineral oil as a laxative agent. Computerized tomography revealed bilateral low attenuation infiltrates, associated with a "crazy paving" pattern in one case. Sudan Black staining was diagnostic in both cases – in one on a transbronchial biopsy specimen, and in the other on sputum cytologic examination. Both patients suffered from neurologic diseases and were at risk of aspiration. In both cases clinical symptoms and signs continued for several months prior to diagnosis but resolved after the mineral oil was discontinued.
Conclusions: LP often occurs in elderly patients who are at risk of aspiration. The condition may be underdiagnosed. Since in most cases mineral oil cathartics are the causative agent, an effort at primary prevention is indicated. It is suggested that the licensing of mineral oil for internal use be changed.