What We Already Know about This Topic: Obesity increases the propensity to atelectasis in acute respiratory distress syndrome, but the optimal approach to reversing this atelectasis is uncertain
What This Article Tells Us That Is New: A clinical crossover study comparing three approaches to titrate positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP; according to a fixed table, according to end-expiratory esophageal pressure, and targeting the best compliance during a decremental PEEP trial) found that a recruitment maneuver followed by decremental PEEP minimized atelectasis and overdistension, and best restored compliance and oxygenation without causing hemodynamic impairment
Background: Obese patients are characterized by normal chest-wall elastance and high pleural pressure and have been excluded from trials assessing best strategies to set positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The authors hypothesized that severely obese patients with ARDS present with a high degree of lung collapse, reversible by titrated PEEP preceded by a lung recruitment maneuver.
Methods: Severely obese ARDS patients were enrolled in a physiologic crossover study evaluating the effects of three PEEP titration strategies applied in the following order: (1) PEEPARDSNET: the low PEEP/Fio2 ARDSnet table; (2) PEEPINCREMENTAL: PEEP levels set to determine a positive end-expiratory transpulmonary pressure; and (3) PEEPDECREMENTAL: PEEP levels set to determine the lowest respiratory system elastance during a decremental PEEP trial following a recruitment maneuver on respiratory mechanics, regional lung collapse, and overdistension according to electrical impedance tomography and gas exchange.
Results: Fourteen patients underwent the study procedures. At PEEPARDSNET (13 ± 1 cm H2O) end-expiratory transpulmonary pressure was negative (−5 ± 5 cm H2O), lung elastance was 27 ± 12 cm H2O/L, and PaO2/Fio2 was 194 ± 111 mmHg. Compared to PEEPARDSNET, at PEEPINCREMENTAL level (22 ± 3 cm H2O) lung volume increased (977 ± 708 ml), lung elastance decreased (23 ± 7 cm H2O/l), lung collapse decreased (18 ± 10%), and ventilation homogeneity increased thus rising oxygenation (251 ± 105 mmHg), despite higher overdistension levels (16 ± 12%), all values P < 0.05 versusPEEPARDSnet. Setting PEEP according to a PEEPDECREMENTAL trial after a recruitment maneuver (21 ± 4 cm H2O, P = 0.99 vs. PEEPINCREMENTAL) further lowered lung elastance (19 ± 6 cm H2O/l) and increased oxygenation (329 ± 82 mmHg) while reducing lung collapse (9 ± 2%) and overdistension (11 ± 2%), all values P < 0.05 versus PEEPARDSnet and PEEPINCREMENTAL. All patients were maintained on titrated PEEP levels up to 24 h without hemodynamic or ventilation related complications.
Conclusions: Among the PEEP titration strategies tested, setting PEEP according to a PEEPDECREMENTAL trial preceded by a recruitment maneuver obtained the best lung function by decreasing lung overdistension and collapse, restoring lung elastance, and oxygenation suggesting lung tissue recruitment.