Massive haemoptysis DDx


  • Haemoptysis is the symptom of coughing up blood. Massive haemoptysis has no generally accepted definition. Suggested volumes range from 100 mL to more than 1000 mL.
  • A more relevant definition of massive haemoptysis is the volume that is life threatening by virtue of airway obstruction or blood loss (anatomical dead space is only 100-200 mL)
  • Origin is bronchial circulation in 95%, and pulmonary circulation in 5%.
  • Alveolar haemorrhage rarely causes massive haemoptysis


Chronic inflammatory conditions (including bronchiectasis, tuberculosis, lung abscess) and lung malignancies are the most common causes


  • Mycobacteria, particularly tuberculosis
  • Fungal infections (mycetoma)
  • Lung abscess
  • Necrotising pneumonia (Klebsiella, Staphylococcus, Legionella)


  • Swan-Ganz catheterisation
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Transbronchial biopsy
  • Transtracheal aspirate


  • Hydatid cyst
  • Paragonimiasis


  • Blunt/penetrating injury
  • Suction ulcers
  • Tracheo-arterial fistula


  • Bronchogenic carcinoma
  • Bronchial adenoma
  • Pulmonary metastases
  • Sarcoma


  • Bronchial adenoma
  • Foreign body aspiration
  • Vascular anomalies


  • Pulmonary infarct, embolism
  • Mitral stenosis
  • Arteriobronchial fistula
  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Bronchial telangiectasia
  • Left ventricular failure


  • Von Willebrand’s disease
  • Haemophilia
  • Anticoagulant therapy
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Platelet dysfunction
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation



  • Bronchiectasis (including cystic fibrosis)
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysematous bullae


  • Lymphangioleiomatosis
  • Catamenial (endometriosis)
  • Pneumoconiosis
  • Broncholith
  • Idiopathic


  • Epistaxis
  • Haematemesis

References and Links

Journal articles and textbooks

  • Lordan JL, Gascoigne A, Corris PA. The pulmonary physician in critical care * Illustrative case 7: Assessment and management of massive haemoptysis. Thorax. 2003 Sep;58(9):814-9. PMC1746797.

CCC 700 6

Critical Care


Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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