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Mendelson's syndrome

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Not commonly used term for bronchopulmonary diseases occurring with aspiration of gastric juice. Syndrome characterised by a bronchopulmonary reaction following aspiration of gastric contents during general anaesthesia due to abolition of the laryngeal reflexes. The main clinical features, which may become evident within two to five hours after anaesthesia, consist of cyanosis, dyspnoea, pulmonary wheeze, crepitant rales, bronchi, decreased arterial oxygen tension, and tachyardia. Pulmonary oedema can cause sudden death or death may occur later from pulmonary complications. It occurs predominantly in association with obstetric anaesthesia.

Mendelson found this complication in 0,15 percent of 44.016 deliveries.


  • C. L. Mendelson:
    The aspiration of stomach contents into the lungs during obstetric anesthesia.
    American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, St. Louis, 1946, 52: 191-205.

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