The Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a fulminant form of respiratory failure affecting many seriously ill patients. The early manifestations of ARDS are caused by increased permeability of the alveolo-capillary barrier leading to pulmonary edema, stiff lungs, and a large right-to-left in-trapulmonary shunt. Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNS) are involved in the pathogenesis of most ARDS, and multiple PMN mechanisms can effect pulmonary injury; interactions between PMN adherence, proteolytic enzyme release, and oxygen radical production are emphasized. ARDS therapy remains largely supportive and has had little impact on mortality. The complications of infection and multiorgan failure play important roles in determining ARDS outcome.
(C) Copyright 1989 Southern Society for Clinical Investigation