A practical approach to the use of prone therapy in acute respiratory distress syndrome

Expert Rev Respir Med. 2014 Aug;8(4):453-63. doi: 10.1586/17476348.2014.918850. Epub 2014 May 16.


In this article we propose a practical approach to the use of prone therapy for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). We have attempted to provide information to improve the understanding and implementation of prone therapy based on the literature available and our own experience. We review the basic physiology behind ARDS and the theoretical mechanism by which prone therapy can be of benefit. The findings of the most significant studies regarding prone therapy in ARDS as they pertain to its implementation are summarized. Also provided is a discussion of the nuances of utilizing prone therapy, including potential pitfalls, complications, and contraindications. The specific considerations of prone therapy in open abdomens and traumatic brain injuries are discussed as well. Finally, we supply suggested protocols for the implementation of prone therapy discussing criteria for initiation and cessation of therapy as well as addressing issues such as the use of neuromuscular blockade and nutritional supplementation.

Keywords: acute respiratory distress syndrome; critical care; mechanical ventilation; prone position; refractory hypoxemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Prone Position*
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome