Acute cor pulmonale during protective ventilation for acute respiratory distress syndrome: prevalence, predictors, and clinical impact

Intensive Care Med. 2016 May;42(5):862-870. doi: 10.1007/s00134-015-4141-2. Epub 2015 Dec 9.


Rationale: Increased right ventricle (RV) afterload during acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) may induce acute cor pulmonale (ACP).

Objectives: To determine the prevalence and prognosis of ACP and build a clinical risk score for the early detection of ACP.

Methods: This was a prospective study in which 752 patients with moderate-to-severe ARDS receiving protective ventilation were assessed using transesophageal echocardiography in 11 intensive care units. The study cohort was randomly split in a derivation (n = 502) and a validation (n = 250) cohort.

Measurements and main results: ACP was defined as septal dyskinesia with a dilated RV [end-diastolic RV/left ventricle (LV) area ratio >0.6 (≥1 for severe dilatation)]. ACP was found in 164 of the 752 patients (prevalence of 22 %; 95 % confidence interval 19-25 %). In the derivation cohort, the ACP risk score included four variables [pneumonia as a cause of ARDS, driving pressure ≥18 cm H2O, arterial oxygen partial pressure to fractional inspired oxygen (PaO2/FiO2) ratio <150 mmHg, and arterial carbon dioxide partial pressure ≥48 mmHg]. The ACP risk score had a reasonable discrimination and a good calibration. Hospital mortality did not differ between patients with or without ACP, but it was significantly higher in patients with severe ACP than in the other patients [31/54 (57 %) vs. 291/698 (42 %); p = 0.03]. Independent risk factors for hospital mortality included severe ACP along with male gender, age, SAPS II, shock, PaO2/FiO2 ratio, respiratory rate, and driving pressure, while prone position was protective.

Conclusions: We report a 22 % prevalence of ACP and a poor outcome of severe ACP. We propose a simple clinical risk score for early identification of ACP that could trigger specific therapeutic strategies to reduce RV afterload.

Keywords: ARDS; Echocardiography; Mechanical ventilation; Right ventricle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Echocardiography, Transesophageal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Heart Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Heart Disease / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Heart Disease / etiology*
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome