Clinical review: biphasic positive airway pressure and airway pressure release ventilation

Crit Care. 2004 Dec;8(6):492-7. doi: 10.1186/cc2919. Epub 2004 Aug 2.


This review focuses on mechanical ventilation strategies that allow unsupported spontaneous breathing activity in any phase of the ventilatory cycle. By allowing patients with the acute respiratory distress syndrome to breathe spontaneously, one can expect improvements in gas exchange and systemic blood flow, based on findings from both experimental and clinical trials. In addition, by increasing end-expiratory lung volume, as occurs when using biphasic positive airway pressure or airway pressure release ventilation, recruitment of collapsed or consolidated lung is likely to occur, especially in juxtadiaphragmatic lung legions. Traditional approaches to mechanical ventilatory support of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome require adaptation of the patient to the mechanical ventilator using heavy sedation and even muscle relaxation. Recent investigations have questioned the utility of sedation, muscle paralysis and mechanical control of ventilation. Furthermore, evidence exists that lowering sedation levels will decrease the duration of mechanical ventilatory support, length of stay in the intensive care unit, and overall costs of hospitalization. Based on currently available data, we suggest considering the use of techniques of mechanical ventilatory support that maintain, rather than suppress, spontaneous ventilatory effort, especially in patients with severe pulmonary dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia / methods
  • Conscious Sedation / methods
  • Critical Illness
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / methods*
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*
  • Tidal Volume
  • Work of Breathing / physiology