Objective: To find out the late pulmonary sequelae of sulfur mustard gas inhalation in 197 veterans, 10 years after their exposure.
Design: Cross-sectional clinical study.
Setting: University hospital.
Patients: One hundred ninety-seven veterans with a single, heavy exposure to sulfur mustard gas in 1986 and 86 nonexposed veterans as their control group.
Interventions: Pulmonary function tests, carbon monoxide diffusion capacity, bronchoscopy, and high-resolution CT of the chest were performed in all patients. Transbronchial lung biopsy was done in 24 suspected cases of pulmonary fibrosis.
Results: Asthma was diagnosed in 21 (10.65%), chronic bronchitis in 116 (58.88%), bronchiectasis in 17 (8.62%), airway narrowing due to scaring or granulation tissue in 19 (9.64%), and pulmonary fibrosis in 24 (12.18%) cases. None of these were found among the control group except for a single case of chronic bronchitis.
Conclusion: Although the respiratory symptoms of an acute sulfur mustard gas inhalation are usually transient and nonspecific, it can lead to the development of a series of chronic destructive pulmonary sequelae in such cases.