How to assess positive end-expiratory pressure-induced alveolar recruitment?

Q Lu
Minerva Anestesiologica 2013, 79 (1): 83-91
Randomized trials fail to demonstrate a decrease in mortality when high Positive End-Expiratory Pressure (PEEP) is applied to patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Use of PEEP in all patients without taking into consideration specific lung morphology, potential for recruitment and risk of lung hyperinflation could be one of explanations. Assessment of alveolar recruitment in each individual patient appears to reach a good compromise between optimization of mechanical ventilation and reduction of lung injury due to systematic application of high PEEP. The purpose of the review was to discuss different methods to measure alveolar recruitment aimed at selecting optimal PEEP. The revision of the literature includes relevant human and animal studies published in the past ten years describing validated and promising methods. Computed tomography remains the reference method to assess regional PEEP-induced alveolar recruitment and hyperinflation. Lung ultrasound and pressure-volume (P-V) curve method are simple and repeatable at the bedside, but they can't provide information on lung hyperinflation. Electrical impedance tomography allows bedside assessment of tidal recruitment in dependent and nondependent regions. By measuring functional residual capacity, alveolar recruitment and strain can be estimated. Decremental PEEP titration preceded by recruitment maneuver has been suggested to define optimal PEEP that sustains oxygenation benefit of recruitment maneuver. Different methods are available to assess PEEP-induced alveolar recruitment. Lung ultrasound and P-V curve method can be easily used at bedside to assess lung recruitability and test optimal PEEP. Further development is required for bedside assessment combing alveolar recruitment with hyperinflation.

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