Lung Injury After One-Lung Ventilation: A Review of the Pathophysiologic Mechanisms Affecting the Ventilated and the Collapsed Lung

Anesth Analg. 2015 Aug;121(2):302-18. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000000808.


Lung injury is the leading cause of death after thoracic surgery. Initially recognized after pneumonectomy, it has since been described after any period of 1-lung ventilation (OLV), even in the absence of lung resection. Overhydration and high tidal volumes were thought to be responsible at various points; however, it is now recognized that the pathophysiology is more complex and multifactorial. All causative mechanisms known to trigger ventilator-induced lung injury have been described in the OLV setting. The ventilated lung is exposed to high strain secondary to large, nonphysiologic tidal volumes and loss of the normal functional residual capacity. In addition, the ventilated lung experiences oxidative stress, as well as capillary shear stress because of hyperperfusion. Surgical manipulation and/or resection of the collapsed lung may induce lung injury. Re-expansion of the collapsed lung at the conclusion of OLV invariably induces duration-dependent, ischemia-reperfusion injury. Inflammatory cytokines are released in response to localized injury and may promote local and contralateral lung injury. Protective ventilation and volatile anesthesia lessen the degree of injury; however, increases in biochemical and histologic markers of lung injury appear unavoidable. The endothelial glycocalyx may represent a common pathway for lung injury creation during OLV, because it is damaged by most of the recognized lung injurious mechanisms. Experimental therapies to stabilize the endothelial glycocalyx may afford the ability to reduce lung injury in the future. In the interim, protective ventilation with tidal volumes of 4 to 5 mL/kg predicted body weight, positive end-expiratory pressure of 5 to 10 cm H2O, and routine lung recruitment should be used during OLV in an attempt to minimize harmful lung stress and strain. Additional strategies to reduce lung injury include routine volatile anesthesia and efforts to minimize OLV duration and hyperoxia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benchmarking
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Glycocalyx / metabolism
  • Glycocalyx / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Lung / blood supply*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Lung Compliance
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis / complications
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis / therapy*
  • Pulmonary Circulation
  • Reperfusion Injury / diagnosis
  • Reperfusion Injury / etiology*
  • Reperfusion Injury / metabolism
  • Reperfusion Injury / physiopathology
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tidal Volume
  • Vasoconstriction
  • Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury / diagnosis
  • Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury / etiology*
  • Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury / metabolism
  • Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury / physiopathology


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators