Driving pressure-guided ventilation and postoperative pulmonary complications in thoracic surgery: a multicentre randomised clinical trial

Br J Anaesth. 2023 Jan;130(1):e106-e118. doi: 10.1016/j.bja.2022.06.037. Epub 2022 Aug 20.


Background: Airway driving pressure, easily measured as plateau pressure minus PEEP, is a surrogate for alveolar stress and strain. However, the effect of its targeted reduction remains unclear.

Methods: In this multicentre trial, patients undergoing lung resection surgery were randomised to either a driving pressure group (n=650) receiving an alveolar recruitment/individualised PEEP to deliver the lowest driving pressure or to a conventional protective ventilation group (n=650) with fixed PEEP of 5 cm H2O. The primary outcome was a composite of pulmonary complications within 7 days postoperatively.

Results: The modified intention-to-treat analysis included 1170 patients (mean [standard deviation, sd]; age, 63 [10] yr; 47% female). The mean driving pressure was 7.1 cm H2O in the driving pressure group vs 9.2 cm H2O in the protective ventilation group (mean difference [95% confidence interval, CI]; -2.1 [-2.4 to -1.9] cm H2O; P<0.001). The incidence of pulmonary complications was not different between the two groups: driving pressure group (233/576, 40.5%) vs protective ventilation group (254/594, 42.8%) (risk difference -2.3%; 95% CI, -8.0% to 3.3%; P=0.42). Intraoperatively, lung compliance (mean [sd], 42.7 [12.4] vs 33.5 [11.1] ml cm H2O-1; P<0.001) and Pao2 (median [inter-quartile range], 21.5 [14.5 to 30.4] vs 19.5 [13.5 to 29.1] kPa; P=0.03) were higher and the need for rescue ventilation was less frequent (6.8% vs 10.8%; P=0.02) in the driving pressure group.

Conclusions: In lung resection surgery, a driving pressure-guided ventilation improved pulmonary mechanics intraoperatively, but did not reduce the incidence of postoperative pulmonary complications compared with a conventional protective ventilation.

Clinical trial registration: NCT04260451.

Keywords: airway driving pressure; lung protective ventilation; positive end-expiratory pressure; postoperative pulmonary complications; thoracic surgery.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / adverse effects
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Thoracic Surgery*
  • Thoracic Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Tidal Volume

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04260451