By Julie Steenhuysen
(Reuters) – Canadian researchers have identified a new type of vaping-related injury that they believe is linked to flavors in conventional vape pens, causing Symptoms similar to "popcorn lung injury" seen in
The case, published Thursday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, involved a 17-year-old man who developed a form of bronchiolitis, a serious and irreversible lung injury caused by chemical exposure.
The condition is linked to diacetyl, a chemical that gives microwave popcorn its buttery taste and is a known cause of bronchitis. Other studies have also found diacetyl in vaping fluids. She was diagnosed with pneumonia and prescribed antibiotics. He continued to refuse and was put on a mechanical fan, but still failed to improve.
At that point, he was transferred to the London Health Sciences Center and placed on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, machine ̵1; a severe treatment that lasts the lungs. It stabilizes her, but does not reverse the condition.
"I was worried that his lungs might not recover enough to get him out of the machine," Dr. Karen Bosma, a London health care physician and a study author.  Fearing that he might need a lung transplant, the team moved the teen to a regional transplant center in Toronto. Because the test ruled out the infection, doctors decided to try high-dose steroids, which helped reduce inflammation.
The patient reported using both flavored nicotine vapors and THC – the psychoactive agent in marijuana. Doctors are suspected of vaping-related injuries, even before the United States outbreak was reported.
Although the case shares similarities with more than 2,000 cases of vaping-related illnesses in the United States, the damage is different. Instead of damaging the air sacs in the lungs, the teen damaged the airways, which his doctors believe were caused by chemical damage.
"This is a new finding," Bosma said.
Many chemical vaping can cause harm, he said, but the team focused on diacetyl because it was shown to cause similar illnesses.
Four months after his release, the teenager still had trouble breathing. Bosma said it was unclear if his lungs would recover.
"In patients with popcorn lungs, it is inevitable to return."
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Bill Berkrot)