Mechanical ventilation management during cardiothoracic surgery: an open challenge

Ann Transl Med. 2018 Oct;6(19):380. doi: 10.21037/atm.2018.06.08.


Mechanical ventilation during surgery is a highly complex procedure, particularly in cardiothoracic surgery, where patients need to undergo substantial hemodynamic management, involving large fluid exchanges and pharmacological manipulation of vascular resistance, as well as direct manipulation of the lungs themselves. Cardiothoracic surgery is burdened by a high rate of postoperative pulmonary complication (PPC), comorbidity, and mortality. Recent trials have examined various techniques to preserve lung function, although consensus on best practice has yet to be reached. This might be due to the close relationship between the circulatory and pulmonary systems. The use of a technique designed to prevent pulmonary complication might negatively impact the hemodynamics of an already critical patient. Stress-induced lung injury can occur during surgery for various reasons, some of which have yet to be fully investigated. In cardiac surgery, this damage is mainly ascribed to two events: cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) and sternotomy. In thoracic surgery, on the other hand, overdistention and permissive hyperoxia, both routinely used on one lung to compensate for the collapse of the other, are generally to blame for lung injury. In recent years "protective" ventilation strategies have been proposed to spare lung parenchyma from stress-induced damage. Despite the growing interest in protective ventilation techniques, there are still no clear international guidelines for mechanical ventilation in cardiothoracic surgery. However, some recent progress has been made, with positive clinical outcomes.

Keywords: Thoracic surgery; cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB); lung injury; mechanical ventilation; one-lung ventilation (OVL); protective ventilation.

Publication types

  • Review