Low-tidal-volume ventilation in the acute respiratory distress syndrome

N Engl J Med. 2007 Sep 13;357(11):1113-20. doi: 10.1056/NEJMct074213.


A 55-year-old man who is 178 cm tall and weighs 95 kg is hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia and progressively severe dyspnea. His arterial oxygen saturation while breathing 100% oxygen through a face mask is 76%; a chest radiograph shows diffuse alveolar infiltrates with air bronchograms. He is intubated and receives mechanical ventilation; ventilator settings include a tidal volume of 1000 ml, a positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) of 5 cm of water, and a fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) of 0.8. With these settings, peak airway pressure is 50 to 60 cm of water, plateau airway pressure is 38 cm of water, partial pressure of arterial oxygen is 120 mm Hg, partial pressure of carbon dioxide is 37 mm Hg, and arterial blood pH is 7.47. The diagnosis of the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is made. An intensive care specialist evaluates the patient and recommends changing the current ventilator settings and implementing a low-tidal-volume ventilation strategy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*
  • Tidal Volume