Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) was first described in 1967. Since then, several landmark studies have been published that have greatly influenced the way we diagnose and treat patients with ARDS. Despite extensive research and advancements in ventilator strategies, moderate-severe ARDS has been associated with high mortality rates. Current treatment remains primarily supportive with lung-protective ventilation strategies. Pharmacological therapies that reduce the severity of lung injury in vivo and in vitro have not yet translated into effective clinical treatment options. Currently, the mortality rate of severe ARDS remains in the range of 30% to 40%. To review, the mainstay of ARDS management includes mechanical ventilation with low tidal volumes to decrease barotrauma, prone ventilation, conservative fluid management, and neuromuscular blockade. ARDS survivors tend to have long-term and potentially permanent neuromuscular, cognitive, and psychological symptoms, affecting patient's quality of life posthospitalization. These long-term effects are likely secondary to prolonged hospitalizations, prolonged mechanical ventilation, utilization of prone strategies, utilization of paralytic drugs, and occasionally steroids. Therefore, several novel therapies outside the realm of advanced ventilation and prone positioning methods are being studied. In this article, we discuss a few of these novel therapies including prophylactic aspirin, inhaled nitric oxide, mesenchymal stem cells, and intravenous β-agonists. Steroids and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation have been discussed in a previous article.
Division of Pulmonary-Critical Care, Allegheny General Hospital, Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Correspondence: Kiet Ma, DO, Division of Pulmonary-Critical Care, Allegheny General Hospital, Allegheny Health Network, 320 E North Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (Kiettma@gmail.com).
The authors of this article have no disclosures to report.