Lung sonography and recruitment in patients with early acute respiratory distress syndrome: a pilot study

Crit Care. 2011 Aug 4;15(4):R185. doi: 10.1186/cc10338.


Introduction: Bedside lung sonography is a useful imaging tool to assess lung aeration in critically ill patients. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of lung sonography in estimating the nonaerated area changes in the dependent lung regions during a positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) trial of patients with early acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Methods: Ten patients (mean ± standard deviation (SD): age 64 ± 7 years, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II (APACHE II) score 21 ± 4) with early ARDS on mechanical ventilation were included in the study. Transthoracic sonography was performed in all patients to depict the nonaerated area in the dependent lung regions at different PEEP settings of 5, 10 and 15 cm H2O. Lung sonographic assessment of the nonaerated lung area and arterial blood gas analysis were performed simultaneously at the end of each period. A control group of five early ARDS patients matched for APACHE II score was also included in the study.

Results: The nonaerated areas in the dependent lung regions were significantly reduced during PEEP increases from 5 to 10 to 15 cm H2O (27 ± 31 cm2 to 20 ± 24 cm2 to 11 ± 12 cm2, respectively; P < 0.01). These changes were associated with a significant increase in arterial oxygen partial pressure (74 ± 15 mmHg to 90 ± 19 mmHg to 102 ± 26 mmHg; P < 0.001, respectively). No significant changes were observed in the nonaerated areas in the dependent lung regions in the control group.

Conclusions: In this study, we show that transthoracic lung sonography can detect the nonaerated lung area changes during a PEEP trial of patients with early ARDS. Thus, transthoracic lung sonography might be considered as a useful clinical tool in the management of ARDS patients.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Gas Analysis
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Ultrasonography