Bench-to-bedside review: adjuncts to mechanical ventilation in patients with acute lung injury

Crit Care. 2005 Oct 5;9(5):465-71. doi: 10.1186/cc3763. Epub 2005 Jun 28.


Mechanical ventilation is indispensable for the survival of patients with acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome. However, excessive tidal volumes and inadequate lung recruitment may contribute to mortality by causing ventilator-induced lung injury. This bench-to-bedside review presents the scientific rationale for using adjuncts to mechanical ventilation aimed at optimizing lung recruitment and preventing the deleterious consequences of reduced tidal volume. To enhance CO2 elimination when tidal volume is reduced, the following are possible: first, ventilator respiratory frequency can be increased without necessarily generating intrinsic positive end-expiratory pressure; second, instrumental dead space can be reduced by replacing the heat and moisture exchanger with a conventional humidifier; and third, expiratory washout can be used for replacing the CO2-laden gas present at end expiration in the instrumental dead space by a fresh gas (this method is still experimental). For optimizing lung recruitment and preventing lung derecruitment there are the following possibilities: first, recruitment manoeuvres may be performed in the most hypoxaemic patients before implementing the preset positive end-expiratory pressure or after episodes of accidental lung derecruitment; second, the patient can be turned to the prone position; third, closed-circuit endotracheal suctioning is to be preferred to open endotracheal suctioning.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchi / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inhalation
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Prone Position
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Respiratory Dead Space
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / metabolism
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*
  • Suction / methods
  • Time Factors
  • Trachea / metabolism
  • Ventilators, Mechanical


  • Carbon Dioxide