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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Definition, Causes, and Pathophysiology

Virani, Ahmed MD; Ma, Kiet DO; Leap, Jennifer MD; Dumont, Tiffany DO; Hertel, Joshua MD; Singh, Ashley PhDc, DNP, MSN, RN; Cheema, Tariq MD

doi: 10.1097/CNQ.0000000000000274
Original Articles

First successfully described in 1967, acute respiratory distress syndrome has since garnered much interest and debate. Extensive studies and clinical trials have been carried out in efforts to address the associated high mortality; however, it remains a significant burden on health care. Despite the heterogeneous etiologies that lead to the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome, this rapidly progressing form of respiratory failure, characterized by severe hypoxemia and nonhydrostatic pulmonary edema, has a recognizable pattern of lung injury. In this chapter, we will review the clinical manifestations, definitions, causes, and a brief overview of the pathophysiology of this complex syndrome.

Division of Pulmonary Critical Care (Drs Virani, Ma, Leap, Dumont, and Cheema) and Internal Medicine Residency, Department of Medicine (Dr Hertel), Allegheny General Hospital, Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Nursing, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Dr Singh).

Correspondence: Ahmed Virani, MD, Division of Pulmonary Critical Care, Allegheny General Hospital, Allegheny Health Network, 320 E North Av, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (

The authors of this manuscript have no disclosures to report.

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