Purpose: The use of prone ventilation in acute respiratory failure has been investigated by several randomized controlled trials in the recent past. To date, there has been no systematic review or meta-analysis of these trials.
Material and methods: Systematic literature search was performed between 1966 and July 2006 to identify randomized trials evaluating prone ventilation. Outcome measures included mortality, changes in oxygenation, incidence of pneumonia, duration of mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital stay, cost-effectiveness, and adverse effects including pressure sores, endotracheal tube, or intravascular catheter complications.
Results: Prone ventilation was not associated with reduction in mortality, but improvement in oxygenation was statistically significant (mean difference, 21.2 mm Hg; P < .001). There was no significant difference in incidence of pneumonia, ICU stay, and endotracheal tube complications. There was a trend toward an increased incidence of pressure sores in prone ventilated patients (odds ratio = 1.95; 95% confidence interval, 0.09-4.15; P = .08). The data on other outcomes were not suitable for meta-analysis.
Conclusions: The use of prone ventilation is associated with improved oxygenation. It is not associated with a reduction in mortality, pneumonia, or ICU stay and may be associated with an increased incidence of pressure sores.