Use of recruitment maneuvers and high-positive end-expiratory pressure in a patient with acute respiratory distress syndrome

Crit Care Med. 2000 Apr;28(4):1210-6. doi: 10.1097/00003246-200004000-00051.


Objective: To present the use of a novel high-pressure recruitment maneuver followed by high levels of positive end-expiratory pressure in a patient with the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Design: Observations in one patient.

Setting: The medical intensive care unit at a tertiary care university teaching hospital.

Patient: A 32-yr-old woman with severe ARDS secondary to streptococcal sepsis.

Interventions: The patient had severe gas exchange abnormalities because of acute lung injury and marked lung collapse. Attempts to optimize recruitment based on the inflation pressure-volume (PV) curve were not sufficient to avoid dependent lung collapse. We used a recruitment maneuver using 40 cm H2O of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) and 20 cm H2O of pressure controlled ventilation above PEEP for 2 mins to successfully recruit the lung. The recruitment was maintained with 25 cm H2O of PEEP, which was much higher than the PEEP predicted by the lower inflection point (P(Flex)) of the PV curve.

Measurements and main results: Recruitment was assessed by improvements in oxygenation and by computed tomography of the chest. With the recruitment maneuvers, the patient had a dramatic improvement in gas exchange and we were able to demonstrate nearly complete recruitment of the lung by computed tomography. A PV curve was measured that demonstrated a P(Flex) of 16-18 cm H2O.

Conclusion: Accumulating data suggest that the maximization and maintenance of lung recruitment may reduce lung parenchymal injury from positive pressure ventilation in ARDS. We demonstrate that in this case PEEP alone was not adequate to recruit the injured lung and that a high-pressure recruitment maneuver was required. After recruitment, high-level PEEP was needed to prevent derecruitment and this level of PEEP was not adequately predicted by the P(Flex) of the PV curve.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Critical Care / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / methods*
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / etiology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*
  • Sepsis / complications
  • Sepsis / diagnosis
  • Sepsis / therapy
  • Streptococcal Infections / complications
  • Streptococcal Infections / diagnosis
  • Streptococcal Infections / therapy
  • Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Time Factors