Personalizing mechanical ventilation according to physiologic parameters to stabilize alveoli and minimize ventilator induced lung injury (VILI)

Intensive Care Med Exp. 2017 Dec;5(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s40635-017-0121-x. Epub 2017 Feb 2.


It has been shown that mechanical ventilation in patients with, or at high-risk for, the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) can be a double-edged sword. If the mechanical breath is improperly set, it can amplify the lung injury associated with ARDS, causing a secondary ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI). Conversely, the mechanical breath can be adjusted to minimize VILI, which can reduce ARDS mortality. The current standard of care ventilation strategy to minimize VILI attempts to reduce alveolar over-distension and recruitment-derecruitment (R/D) by lowering tidal volume (Vt) to 6 cc/kg combined with adjusting positive-end expiratory pressure (PEEP) based on a sliding scale directed by changes in oxygenation. Thus, Vt is often but not always set as a "one-size-fits-all" approach and although PEEP is often set arbitrarily at 5 cmH2O, it may be personalized according to changes in a physiologic parameter, most often to oxygenation. However, there is evidence that oxygenation as a method to optimize PEEP is not congruent with the PEEP levels necessary to maintain an open and stable lung. Thus, optimal PEEP might not be personalized to the lung pathology of an individual patient using oxygenation as the physiologic feedback system. Multiple methods of personalizing PEEP have been tested and include dead space, lung compliance, lung stress and strain, ventilation patterns using computed tomography (CT) or electrical impedance tomography (EIT), inflection points on the pressure/volume curve (P/V), and the slope of the expiratory flow curve using airway pressure release ventilation (APRV). Although many studies have shown that personalizing PEEP is possible, there is no consensus as to the optimal technique. This review will assess various methods used to personalize PEEP, directed by physiologic parameters, necessary to adaptively adjust ventilator settings with progressive changes in lung pathophysiology.

Keywords: ARDS; Open lung ventilation; PEEP; Personalizing mechanical ventilation; VILI.

Publication types

  • Review