Tongue swelling in the recovery room: a case report and discussion of postoperative angioedema

LoriJean K. Reed, Jin Meng, Girish P. Joshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We present a case of potentially life-threatening postoperative swelling of the tongue and oropharynx that developed in the postanesthesia care unit in a patient taking lisinopril. The principal treatment of angioedema is the discontinuation of the precipitating agent and airway management. Patients with swelling limited to the face and oral cavity may only require monitoring. However, those with swelling in the floor of the mouth, tongue, and supraglottic or glottic areas should have their airway secured by tracheal intubation immediately. Early intubation in patients displaying these characteristics may decrease the incidence of emergent surgical airways. Angioedema is self-limiting, and the swelling usually resolves spontaneously in two to 3 days. Proper identification of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor-associated angioedema requiring a timely airway intervention may reduce mortality, and recognition of its self-limiting course can prevent unnecessary tracheostomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-229
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Anesthesia
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Angioneurotic edema
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Postoperative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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