PEEP titration in moderate to severe ARDS: plateau versus transpulmonary pressure

Background

Although lung protection with low tidal volume and limited plateau pressure (Pplat) improves survival in acute respiratory distress syndrome patients (ARDS), the best way to set positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) is still debated.

Methods

This study aimed to compare two strategies using individual PEEP based on a maximum Pplat (28–30 cmH2O, the Express group) or on keeping end-expiratory transpulmonary pressure positive (0–5 cmH2O, PLexpi group). We estimated alveolar recruitment (Vrec), end-expiratory lung volume and alveolar distension based on elastance-related end-inspiratory transpulmonary pressure (PL,EL).

Results

Nineteen patients with moderate to severe ARDS (PaO2/FiO2 < 150 mmHg) were included with a baseline PEEP of 7.0 ± 1.8 cmH2O and a PaO2/FiO2 of 91.2 ± 31.2 mmHg. PEEP and oxygenation increased significantly from baseline with both protocols; PEEP Express group was 14.2 ± 3.6 cmH2O versus 16.7 ± 5.9 cmH2O in PLexpi group. No patient had the same PEEP with the two protocols. Vrec was higher with the latter protocol (299 [0 to 875] vs. 222 [47 to 483] ml, p = 0.049) and correlated with improved oxygenation (R2 = 0.45, p = 0.002). Two and seven patients in the Express and PL,expi groups, respectively, had PL,EL > 25 cmH2O.

Conclusions

There is a great heterogeneity of PLexpi when Pplat is used to titrate PEEP but with limited risk of over-distension. A PEEP titration for a moderate positive level of PLexpi might slightly improve alveolar recruitment and oxygenation but increases the risk of over-distension in one-third of patients.

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Last updated: 19/07/2019

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