Ventilation of patients with asthma and obstructive lung disease

Crit Care Clin. 1998 Oct;14(4):685-705. doi: 10.1016/s0749-0704(05)70026-9.


Mechanical ventilation in a patient with obstructive airway disease may be a lifesaving measure; however, it may also be associated with significant morbidity and mortality. It is important for a physician to be familiar with the potential complications of mechanical ventilation in this group of patients and to know how to avoid them by carefully applying safe ventilator strategies. The cornerstone of such strategies is to minimize minute ventilation, maximize time for expiration, and avoid hyperinflation of the lung. Several bedside parameters (iPEEP, VEI, Pplat) that reflect presence of gas trapping and potential hyperinflation may be measured. In addition to mechanical ventilation, management should include inhaled bronchodilators and systemic corticosteroid therapies. In the event controlled hypoventilation is necessary, sedation with or without the use of muscle relaxants may be required. Unconventional therapies such as the use of Heliox, magnesium sulfate, ketamine, and inhalational anesthetics may be attempted in severe cases that do not respond to conventional management. With appropriate use of ventilator strategies, a reduction in the mortality and morbidity of patients with obstructive airway disease requiring mechanical ventilation has recently been noted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / therapy*
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Patient Selection
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Respiratory Mechanics
  • Risk Factors