Skip to content
    All posts

    Heroin Abuser with Sudden Shortness of Breath, Case of the Week

    Opioid Toxicity - Heroin Addict with Sudden Shortness of Breath - Clinical Patient Case of the Week

    Try this free Opioid Toxicity Case Q&A courtesy of Med-Challenger.

    This opioid toxicity case comes from our Emergency Medicine Review

    For more free clinical knowledge review questions, subscribe to the Med-Challenger Medical Education Blog

    Try this case and test your knowledge of opioid toxicity.

    A 17-year-old heroin abuser presents to the emergency department after receiving naloxone in the field for treatment of respiratory depression.

    During observation, he describes the sudden onset of shortness of breath, cough, and chest discomfort, and his pulse oximetry falls to 89% on room air.

    His chest x-ray is depicted below (see Figure).

    opioid toxicity - pulmonary edema


    What is thought to be the reason for this clinical finding?

    Answer Options:

    Opioids have a myocardial stunning effect that results in flash pulmonary edema.

    The continuous use of heroin and other opioids results in congestive heart failure that becomes apparent after fluid administration during emergency care.

    The patient is experiencing bronchospasm from use of heroin.

    Opioids in an overdose and therapeutic dosing setting may result in noncardiogenic pulmonary edema.


    Play the full Med-Challenger Quick Quiz for CME Credit:

    Take the Full Quiz Online 100% Free, No-Obligation

    Every free board review "Question of the Week" is just a sampling of a larger set of free board review questions featured in Med-Challenger's latest CME Quick Quiz.

    Our insanely popular CME Quick Quiz provides FREE board review questions and the opportunity to earn free CME credits every week.  It's a fun way to stay up-to-date and see how your knowledge ranks with peers.  All you need is a free online Med-Challenger account.  Most recent 5 quizzes are available.  Sign up now.

    About Med-Challenger:

    Med-Challenger provides online medical education exam review and continuing medical education products and services to physicians, nurses, and other medical specialists as well as learning management systems for medical training programs and healthcare groups world-wide via its web-based medical education library and world-class assessment platform at