What is a pressure-volume curve?

Crit Care. 2006;10(4):156. doi: 10.1186/cc5002.


The pressure-volume (PV) curve is a physiological tool proposed for diagnostic or monitoring purposes during mechanical ventilation of acute respiratory distress syndrome. The reduction in compliance measured by the PV curve and the different inflection points on the curve are considered interesting markers of the severity of and the levels of opening and closing pressures. Tracing a curve, however, may in itself influence the degree of opening or distension of the lung, and interpretation of the curve has to take this effect into account. In some individuals tracing the curve may even have moderate hemodynamic effects. Fortunately, on average, most of these effects are transient or negligible and do not invalidate the PV curve measurement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lung Compliance / physiology*
  • Pressure
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology