Pathological findings in suspected cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI): a case series.
Since August, 2019, US public health officials have been investigating a national outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). A spectrum of histological patterns consistent with acute to subacute lung injury has been seen in biopsies; however, autopsy findings have not been systematically characterised. We describe the pathological findings in autopsy and biopsy tissues submitted to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the evaluation of suspected EVALI.Between Aug 1, 2019, and Nov 30, 2019, we examined lung biopsy (n=10 individuals) and autopsy (n=13 individuals) tissue samples received by the CDC, submitted by 16 US states, from individuals with: a history of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use; respiratory, gastrointestinal, or constitutional symptoms; and either pulmonary infiltrates or opacities on chest imaging, or sudden death from an undetermined cause. We also reviewed medical records, evaluated histopathology, and performed infectious disease testing when indicated by histopathology and clinical history.21 cases met surveillance case definitions for EVALI, with a further two cases of clinically suspected EVALI evaluated. All ten lung biopsies showed histological evidence of acute to subacute lung injury, including diffuse alveolar damage or organising pneumonia. These patterns were also seen in nine of 13 (69%) autopsy cases, most frequently diffuse alveolar damage (eight autopsies), but also acute and organising fibrinous pneumonia (one autopsy). Additional pulmonary pathology not necessarily consistent with EVALI was seen in the remaining autopsies, including bronchopneumonia, bronchoaspiration, and chronic interstitial lung disease. Three of the five autopsy cases with no evidence of, or a plausible alternative cause for acute lung injury, had been classified as confirmed or probable EVALI according to surveillance case definitions.Acute to subacute lung injury patterns were seen in all ten biopsies and most autopsy lung tissues from individuals with suspected EVALI. Acute to subacute lung injury can have numerous causes; however, if it is identified in an individual with a history of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use, and no alternative cause is apparent, a diagnosis of EVALI should be strongly considered. A review of autopsy tissue pathology in suspected EVALI deaths can also identify alternative diagnoses, which can enhance the specificity of public health surveillance efforts.US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.