Background: The incidence of acute lung injury (ALI) in hypoxic patients undergoing surgery is currently unknown. Previous studies have identified lung protective ventilation strategies that are beneficial in the treatment of ALI. The authors sought to determine the incidence and examine the use of lung protective ventilation strategies in patients receiving anesthetics with a known history of ALI.
Methods: The ventilation parameters that were used in all patients were reviewed, with an average preoperative PaO₂/Fio₂ [corrected] ratio of ≤ 300 between January 1, 2005 and July 1, 2009. This dataset was then merged with a dataset of patients screened for ALI. The median tidal volume, positive end-expiratory pressure, peak inspiratory pressures, fraction inhaled oxygen, oxygen saturation, and tidal volumes were compared between groups.
Results: A total of 1,286 patients met criteria for inclusion; 242 had a diagnosis of ALI preoperatively. Comparison of patients with ALI versus those without ALI found statistically yet clinically insignificant differences between the ventilation strategies between the groups in peak inspiratory pressures and positive end-expiratory pressure but no other category. The tidal volumes in cc/kg predicted body weight were approximately 8.7 in both groups. Peak inspiratory pressures were found to be 27.87 cm H₂O on average in the non-ALI group and 29.2 in the ALI group.
Conclusion: Similar ventilation strategies are used between patients with ALI and those without ALI. These findings suggest that anesthesiologists are not using lung protective ventilation strategies when ventilating patients with low PaO₂/Fio₂ [corrected] ratios and ALI, and instead are treating hypoxia and ALI with higher concentrations of oxygen and peak pressures.