RSNA convenes expert panel to provide key insights on vaping outbreak

An outbreak of lung disease stemming from vaping products continues to spread, with the death toll nearing 50 and another 2,300 affected.

With e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) on the minds of radiologists across the country, the RSNA convened an expert panel Monday, Dec. 2, to share the latest clinical guidance. That included Seth Kligerman, MD, associate professor of radiology and section chief of cardiothoracic imaging at the University of California, San Diego, who has been confronted with several cases of the disease.

He urged radiologists to keep a watchful eye for patterns of diffuse alveolar damage and organizing pneumonia that correspond with a history of vaping. Such findings should be particularly alarming in images of younger patients, he told attendees at the RSNA’s annual meeting.

This will likely be a long learning process for the field as it tries to better understand this condition, he added.

“We’re still seeing patterns that we haven’t come across and we’re still not sure what the underlying outcomes are going to be. A lot of these patients get better but not all of them do and we’ve seen a couple who have passed away,” he said. “These are just the acute injuries. We don’t know a lot of the long-term consequences of this.”

Back in November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pinpointed vitamin E acetate as a “very strong culprit” that’s causing the disease after New York state health officials first identified it in several samples collected in August. Health officials also noted that EVALI has largely afflicted younger white men, with THC use also common among patients.

RSNA’s panel included several medical experts who have recently published studies on the emerging outbreak, with the society providing a roundup of their work here.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the group said it plans to watch the outbreak closely.

"As we learn more, RSNA will continue to keep radiologists informed on this important public health topic," panel member Jeffrey Klein, MD., RSNA Board Liaison for Publications and Communications and professor of radiology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, said in a the announcement.