The benefits of higher positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP) in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) have been modest, but few studies have fully tested the "open-lung hypothesis". This hypothesis states that most of the collapsed lung tissue observed in ARDS can be reversed at an acceptable clinical cost, potentially resulting in better lung protection, but requiring more intensive maneuvers. The short-/middle-term efficacy of a maximum recruitment strategy (MRS) was recently described in a small physiological study. The present study extends those results, describing a case-series of non-selected patients with early, severe ARDS submitted to MRS and followed until hospital discharge or death.
MRS guided by thoracic computed tomography (CT) included two parts: a recruitment phase to calculate opening pressures (incremental steps under pressure-controlled ventilation up to maximum inspiratory pressures of 60 cmH2O, at constant driving-pressures of 15 cmH2O); and a PEEP titration phase (decremental PEEP steps from 25 to 10 cmH2O) used to estimate the minimum PEEP to keep lungs open. During all steps, we calculated the size of the non-aerated (-100 to +100 HU) compartment and the recruitability of the lungs (the percent mass of collapsed tissue re-aerated from baseline to maximum PEEP).
A total of 51 severe ARDS patients, with a mean age of 50.7 years (84% primary ARDS) was studied. The opening plateau-pressure was 59.6 (± 5.9 cmH2O), and the mean PEEP titrated after MRS was 24.6 (± 2.9 cmH2O). Mean PaO2/FiO2 ratio increased from 125 (± 43) to 300 (± 103; P < 0.0001) after MRS and was sustained above 300 throughout seven days. Non-aerated parenchyma decreased significantly from 53.6% (interquartile range (IQR): 42.5 to 62.4) to 12.7% (IQR: 4.9 to 24.2) (P < 0.0001) after MRS. The potentially recruitable lung was estimated at 45% (IQR: 25 to 53). We did not observe major barotrauma or significant clinical complications associated with the maneuver.
MRS could efficiently reverse hypoxemia and most of the collapsed lung tissue during the course of ARDS, compatible with a high lung recruitability in non-selected patients with early, severe ARDS. This strategy should be tested in a prospective randomized clinical trial.
2012. Vol. 16, no 1, R4- p.