Use a table for selecting PEEP in ARDS

PEEPtable.001Selecting the right amount of PEEP to recruit collapsed alveoli in patients with ARDS is important but the best method isn’t proven. Using a table to select PEEP based on FiO2 was significantly but weakly associated with improved lung recruitability (on CT scan) when compare with other methods of selecting PEEP, and was the best method for avoiding higher PEEP in patients with lower recruitability.

This is a small study and the results do not necessarily translate to improved clinical outcomes, but they may be of interest to emergency and retrieval medicine physicians who require a simple and safe strategy when managing ARDS patients without the luxury of time or of access to highly sophisticated ICU ventilators.

Bedside selection of positive end-expiratory pressure in mild, moderate, and severe acute respiratory distress syndrome
Crit Care Med. 2014 Feb;42(2):252-64


OBJECTIVE: Positive end-expiratory pressure exerts its effects keeping open at end-expiration previously collapsed areas of the lung; consequently, higher positive end-expiratory pressure should be limited to patients with high recruitability. We aimed to determine which bedside method would provide positive end-expiratory pressure better related to lung recruitability.

DESIGN: Prospective study performed between 2008 and 2011.
SETTING: Two university hospitals (Italy and Germany).

PATIENTS: Fifty-one patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome.

INTERVENTIONS: Whole lung CT scans were taken in static conditions at 5 and 45 cm H2O during an end-expiratory/end-inspiratory pause to measure lung recruitability. To select individual positive end-expiratory pressure, we applied bedside methods based on lung mechanics (ExPress, stress index), esophageal pressure, and oxygenation (higher positive end-expiratory pressure table of lung open ventilation study).

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Patients were classified in mild, moderate and severe acute respiratory distress syndrome. Positive end-expiratory pressure levels selected by the ExPress, stress index, and absolute esophageal pressures methods were unrelated with lung recruitability, whereas positive end-expiratory pressure levels selected by the lung open ventilation method showed a weak relationship with lung recruitability (r = 0.29; p < 0.0001). When patients were classified according to the acute respiratory distress syndrome Berlin definition, the lung open ventilation method was the only one which gave lower positive end-expiratory pressure levels in mild and moderate acute respiratory distress syndrome compared with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (8 ± 2 and 11 ± 3 cm H2O vs 15 ± 3 cm H2O; p < 0.05), whereas ExPress, stress index, and esophageal pressure methods gave similar positive end-expiratory pressure values in mild, moderate, and severe acute respiratory distress syndrome. The positive end-expiratory pressure selected by the different methods were unrelated to each other with the exception of the two methods based on lung mechanics (ExPress and stress index).

CONCLUSIONS: Bedside positive end-expiratory pressure selection methods based on lung mechanics or absolute esophageal pressures provide positive end-expiratory pressure levels unrelated to lung recruitability and similar in mild, moderate, and severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, whereas the oxygenation-based method provided positive end-expiratory pressure levels related with lung recruitability progressively increasing from mild to moderate and severe acute respiratory distress syndrome.