Ventilatory Strategy to Prevent Atelectasis During Bronchoscopy Under General Anesthesia: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial (Ventilatory Strategy to Prevent Atelectasis -VESPA- Trial)

Chest. 2022 Dec;162(6):1393-1401. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2022.06.045. Epub 2022 Jul 6.


Background: Atelectasis negatively influences peripheral bronchoscopy, increasing CT scan-body divergence, obscuring targets, and creating false-positive radial-probe endobronchial ultrasound (RP-EBUS) images.

Research question: Can a ventilatory strategy reduce the incidence of atelectasis during bronchoscopy under general anesthesia?

Study design and methods: Randomized controlled study (1:1) in which patients undergoing bronchoscopy were randomized to receive standard ventilation (laryngeal mask airway, 100% Fio2, zero positive end-expiratory pressure [PEEP]) vs a ventilatory strategy to prevent atelectasis (VESPA) with endotracheal intubation followed by a recruitment maneuver, Fio2 titration (< 100%), and PEEP of 8 to 10 cm H2O. All patients underwent chest CT imaging and a survey for atelectasis with RP-EBUS bilaterally on bronchial segments 6, 9, and 10 after artificial airway insertion (time 1) and 20 to 30 min later (time 2). Chest CT scans were reviewed by a blinded chest radiologist. RP-EBUS images were assessed by three independent, blinded readers. The primary end point was the proportion of patients with any atelectasis (either unilateral or bilateral) at time 2 according to chest CT scan findings.

Results: Seventy-six patients were analyzed, 38 in each group. The proportion of patients with any atelectasis according to chest CT scan at time 2 was 84.2% (95% CI, 72.6%-95.8%) in the control group and 28.9% (95% CI, 15.4%-45.9%) in the VESPA group (P < .0001). The proportion of patients with bilateral atelectasis at time 2 was 71.1% (95% CI, 56.6%-85.5%) in the control group and 7.9% (95% CI, 1.7%-21.4%) in the VESPA group (P < .0001). At time 2, 3.84 ± 1.67 (mean ± SD) bronchial segments in the control group vs 1.21 ± 1.63 in the VESPA group were deemed atelectatic (P < .0001). No differences were found in the rate of complications.

Interpretation: VESPA significantly reduced the incidence of atelectasis, was well tolerated, and showed a sustained effect over time despite bronchoscopic nodal staging maneuvers. VESPA should be considered for bronchoscopy when atelectasis is to be avoided.

Trial registry:; No.: NCT04311723; URL: www.

Clinicaltrials: gov.

Keywords: atelectasis; bronchoscopy; general anesthesia.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, General / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Masks* / adverse effects
  • Lung
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / methods
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis* / etiology
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis* / prevention & control

Associated data