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Effects of early versus delayed application of prone position on ventilation-perfusion mismatch in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome: a prospective observational study.

BACKGROUND: Prone position has been shown to improve oxygenation and survival in patients with early acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). These beneficial effects are partly mediated by improved ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) distribution. Few studies have investigated the impact of early versus delayed proning on V/Q distribution in patients with ARDS. The aim of this study was to assess the regional ventilation and perfusion distribution in early versus persistent ARDS after prone position.

METHODS: This is a prospective, observational study from June 30, 2021, to October 1, 2022 at the medical ICU in Zhongda Hospital, Southeast University. Fifty-seven consecutive adult patients with moderate-to-severe ARDS ventilated in supine and prone position. Electrical impedance tomography was used to study V/Q distribution in the supine position and 12 h after a prone session.

RESULTS: Of the 57 patients, 33 were early ARDS (≤ 7 days) and 24 were persistent ARDS (> 7 days). Oxygenation significantly improved after proning in early ARDS (157 [121, 191] vs. 190 [164, 245] mm Hg, p < 0.001), whereas no significant change was found in persistent ARDS patients (168 [136, 232] vs.177 [155, 232] mm Hg, p = 0.10). Compared to supine position, prone reduced V/Q mismatch in early ARDS (28.7 [24.6, 35.4] vs. 22.8 [20.0, 26.8] %, p < 0.001), but increased V/Q mismatch in persistent ARDS (23.8 [19.8, 28.6] vs. 30.3 [24.5, 33.3] %, p = 0.006). In early ARDS, proning significantly reduced shunt in the dorsal region and dead space in the ventral region. In persistent ARDS, proning increased global shunt. A significant correlation was found between duration of ARDS onset to proning and the change in V/Q distribution (r = 0.54, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Prone position significantly reduced V/Q mismatch in patients with early ARDS, while it increased V/Q mismatch in persistent ARDS patients. Trial registration (NCT05207267, principal investigator Ling Liu, date of registration 2021.08.20).

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