High-frequency oscillatory ventilation for adult respiratory distress syndrome--a pilot study

Crit Care Med. 1997 Jun;25(6):937-47. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199706000-00008.


Objective: To evaluate the safety and effectiveness of high-frequency oscillatory ventilation using a protocol designed to recruit and maintain optimal lung volume in patients with severe adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Setting: Surgical and medical intensive care units in a tertiary care, military teaching hospital.

Design: A prospective, clinical study.

Patients: Seventeen patients, 17 yrs to 83 yrs of age, with severe ARDS (Lung Injury Score of 3.81 +/- 0.23) failing inverse ratio mechanical conventional ventilation (PaO2/FiO2 ratio of 68.6 +/- 21.6, peak inspiratory pressure of 54.3 +/- 12.7 cm H2O, positive end-expiratory pressure of 18.2 +/- 6.9 cm H2O).

Interventions: High-frequency oscillatory ventilation was instituted after varying periods of conventional ventilation (5.12 +/- 4.3 days). We employed lung volume recruitment strategy that consisted of incremental increases in mean airway pressure to achieve a PaO2 of > or = 60 torr (> or = 8.0 kPa), with an FiO2 of < or = 0.6.

Measurements and main results: High-frequency oscillator ventilator settings (FiO2, mean airway pressure, pressure amplitude of oscillation [delta P] frequency) and hemodynamic parameters (cardiac output, oxygen delivery [DO2]), mean systemic and pulmonary arterial pressures, and the oxygenation index (oxygenation index = [FiO2 x mean airway pressure x 100]/PaO2) were monitored during the transition to high-frequency oscillatory ventilation and throughout the course of the high-frequency protocol. Thirteen patients demonstrated improved gas exchange and an overall improvement in PaO2/FiO2 ratio (p < .02). Reductions in the oxygenation index (p < .01) and FiO2 (p < .02) at 12, 24, and 48 hrs after starting high-frequency oscillatory ventilation were observed. No significant compromise in cardiac output or DO2 was observed, despite a significant increase in mean airway pressure (31.2 +/- 10.3 to 34.0 +/- 6.7 cm H2O, p < .05) on high-frequency oscillatory ventilation. The overall survival rate at 30 days was 47%. A greater number of pretreatment days on conventional ventilation (p < .009) and an entry oxygenation index of > 47 (sensitivity 100%, specificity 100%) were associated with mortality.

Conclusions: High-frequency oscillatory ventilation is both safe and effective in adult patients with severe ARDS failing conventional ventilation. A lung volume recruitment strategy during high-frequency oscillatory ventilation produced improved gas exchange without a compromise in DO2. These results are encouraging and support the need for a prospective, randomized trial of algorithm-controlled conventional ventilation vs. high-frequency oscillatory ventilation for adults with severe ARDS.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • High-Frequency Ventilation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*