Safety and efficacy of a sustained inflation for alveolar recruitment in adults with respiratory failure

Intensive Care Med. 1999 Nov;25(11):1297-301. doi: 10.1007/s001340051061.


Objective: To assess the safety and efficacy of a sustained inflation, used as a lung volume recruitment maneuver in ventilated patients with hypoxemic respiratory failure.

Design: Prospective data collection as part of a quality assurance program following introduction of a lung volume recruitment guideline in the intensive care unit.

Setting: Academic medical-surgical critical care unit.

Patients: Hypoxemic patients with bilateral pulmonary infiltrates. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary barotrauma and hemodynamic instability were excluded.

Interventions: A sustained inflation using a pressure of 30 to 45 cmH2O was applied for 20 s. The pressure was determined as the lesser of 45 cmH2O or the peak pressure while ventilated at a tidal volume of 12 ml/kg. Intra-arterial blood pressure and pulse oximetry were monitored continuously.

Measurements and results: Significant improvement in oxygenation occurred in the majority of patients within 10 min. The mean oxygen saturation improved from 86.9 +/- 5.5 to 94.3 +/- 2.3% (p < 0.01). No significant adverse effects were noted: hypotension and mild oxygen desaturation occurred in some patients during the 20-s inflation, reversing rapidly after inflation was terminated. No barotrauma occurred.

Conclusions: A sustained inflation is a safe, clinically applicable method of lung volume recruitment which improves oxygenation in selected patients and may have a role in ventilatory management.

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care* / methods
  • Humans
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration* / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*


  • Oxygen