Inhalational Constrictive Bronchiolitis: The Evolution of our Understanding of this Disease

Daniel E. Banks*, Michael J. Morris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The case definition of inhalational constrictive bronchiolitis (CB) has changed over the generations. We identify changes in the description of this illness over time associated with different exposures and present the natural history of CB in a case attributed to military burn pit exposure. The initial descriptions of this disease began with nitric acid spills and silage exposures. In these events, there was an acute exposure, typically a short-term resolution of the adverse respiratory events, and then a progression, leading to disability or a respiratory death. The life-saving role of corticosteroid therapy in this situation was recognized. War gas exposures of World War I and then Saddam Hussein’s use of sulfur mustard gas in the Iran-Iraq War followed. More recently the findings associated with diacetyl exposure in commercial popcorn workers remained consistent with previously described presentations, but then the clinical presentation in troops returning from deployment to Southwest Asia was very different, yet with the same histologic findings. We recognize unreconciled disparities in the clinical, physiologic, and imaging presentation in those with inhalational bronchiolitis and acknowledge this as perhaps one of the difficult diagnoses in respiratory medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-334
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Airways obstruction
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Inhalation exposure


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