Background: Previous trials involving patients with the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) have failed to show a beneficial effect of prone positioning during mechanical ventilatory support on outcomes. We evaluated the effect of early application of prone positioning on outcomes in patients with severe ARDS.
Methods: In this multicenter, prospective, randomized, controlled trial, we randomly assigned 466 patients with severe ARDS to undergo prone-positioning sessions of at least 16 hours or to be left in the supine position. Severe ARDS was defined as a ratio of the partial pressure of arterial oxygen to the fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) of less than 150 mm Hg, with an FiO2 of at least 0.6, a positive end-expiratory pressure of at least 5 cm of water, and a tidal volume close to 6 ml per kilogram of predicted body weight. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who died from any cause within 28 days after inclusion.
Results: A total of 237 patients were assigned to the prone group, and 229 patients were assigned to the supine group. The 28-day mortality was 16.0% in the prone group and 32.8% in the supine group (P<0.001). The hazard ratio for death with prone positioning was 0.39 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.25 to 0.63). Unadjusted 90-day mortality was 23.6% in the prone group versus 41.0% in the supine group (P<0.001), with a hazard ratio of 0.44 (95% CI, 0.29 to 0.67). The incidence of complications did not differ significantly between the groups, except for the incidence of cardiac arrests, which was higher in the supine group.
Conclusions: In patients with severe ARDS, early application of prolonged prone-positioning sessions significantly decreased 28-day and 90-day mortality. (Funded by the Programme Hospitalier de Recherche Clinique National 2006 and 2010 of the French Ministry of Health; PROSEVA ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00527813.).