Background: Tidal hyperinflation may occur in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome who are ventilated with a tidal volume (VT) of 6 ml/kg of predicted body weight develop a plateau pressure (PPLAT) of 28 < or = PPLAT < or = 30 cm H2O. The authors verified whether VT lower than 6 ml/kg may enhance lung protection and that consequent respiratory acidosis may be managed by extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal.
Methods: PPLAT, lung morphology computed tomography, and pulmonary inflammatory cytokines (bronchoalveolar lavage) were assessed in 32 patients ventilated with a VT of 6 ml/kg. Data are provided as mean +/- SD or median and interquartile (25th and 75th percentile) range. In patients with 28 < or = PPLAT < or = 30 cm H2O (n = 10), VT was reduced from 6.3 +/- 0.2 to 4.2 +/- 0.3 ml/kg, and PPLAT decreased from 29.1 +/- 1.2 to 25.0 +/- 1.2 cm H2O (P < 0.001); consequent respiratory acidosis (Paco2 from 48.4 +/- 8.7 to 73.6 +/- 11.1 mmHg and pH from 7.36 +/- 0.03 to 7.20 +/- 0.02; P < 0.001) was managed by extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal. Lung function, morphology, and pulmonary inflammatory cytokines were also assessed after 72 h.
Results: Extracorporeal assist normalized Paco2 (50.4 +/- 8.2 mmHg) and pH (7.32 +/- 0.03) and allowed use of VT lower than 6 ml/kg for 144 (84-168) h. The improvement of morphological markers of lung protection and the reduction of pulmonary cytokines concentration (P < 0.01) were observed after 72 h of ventilation with VT lower than 6 ml/kg. No patient-related complications were observed.
Conclusions: VT lower than 6 ml/Kg enhanced lung protection. Respiratory acidosis consequent to low VT ventilation was safely and efficiently managed by extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal.