Rationale: Reperfusion lung injury is a postoperative complication of pulmonary thromboendarterectomy that can significantly affect morbidity and mortality. Studies in other postoperative patient populations have demonstrated a reduction in acute lung injury with the use of a low-tidal volume (Vt) ventilation strategy. Whether this approach benefits patients undergoing thromboendarterectomy is unknown.
Objectives: We sought to determine if low-Vt ventilation reduces reperfusion lung injury in patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension undergoing thromboendarterectomy.
Methods: Patients undergoing thromboendarterectomy at one center were randomized to receive either low (6 ml/kg predicted body weight) or usual care Vts (10 ml/kg) from the initiation of mechanical ventilation in the operating room through Postoperative Day 3. The primary endpoint was the onset of reperfusion lung injury. Secondary outcomes included severity of hypoxemia, days on mechanical ventilation, and intensive care unit and hospital lengths of stay.
Measurements and main results: A total of 128 patients were enrolled and included in the analysis; 63 were randomized to the low-Vt group and 65 were randomized to the usual care group. There was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of reperfusion lung injury between groups (32%, n=20 in the low-Vt group vs. 23%, n=15 in the usual care group; P=0.367). Although differences were noted in plateau pressures (17.9 cm H2O vs. 20.1 cm H2O, P<0.001) and peak inspiratory pressures (20.4 cm H2O vs. 23.0 cm H2O, P<0.001) between the low-Vt and usual care groups, respectively, mean airway pressures, PaO2/FiO2, days on mechanical ventilation, and ICU and hospital lengths of stay were all similar between groups.
Conclusions: In patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension undergoing pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, intra- and postoperative ventilation using low Vts (6 mg/kg) compared with usual care Vts (10 mg/kg) does not reduce the incidence of reperfusion lung injury or improve clinical outcomes. Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT00747045).
Keywords: adult respiratory distress syndrome; mechanical ventilators; postoperative care; pulmonary hypertension; ventilator-induced lung injury.