Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal


The outcome of 29 patients with a diagnosis of small cell carcinoma of the lung admitted to the medical intensive care unit (MICU) from 1980 through 1984 was reviewed retrospectively. Respiratory failure was the most common admitting diagnosis (23 patients [80%]). followed by cardiopulmonary arrest (three patients [10%]), and hypotension (three patients [10%] ). Only five patients survived to leave the MICU, and only two of these patients lived longer than two months after MICU discharge. Of the features examined, the absence of sepsis was the only statistically significant predictor of MICU survival. Treatment of the malignancy did not appear to alter the outcome even if endobronchial tumor was thought to be a contributor to respiratory failure. The outlook of patients with small cell carcinoma of the lung admitted to the MICU is grim, and limitation of care should be considered in many of these patients.