Purpose of review
The most effective strategies for treating the patient with acute respiratory distress syndrome center on minimizing ventilation-induced lung injury (VILI). Yet, current standard-of-care does little to modify mechanical ventilation to patient-specific risk. This review focuses on evaluation of bedside respiratory mechanics, which when interpreted in patient-specific context, affords opportunity to individualize lung-protective ventilation in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Four biophysical mechanisms of VILI are widely accepted: volutrauma, barotrauma, atelectrauma, and stress concentration. Resulting biotrauma, that is, local and systemic inflammation and endothelial activation, may be thought of as the final common pathway that propagates VILI-mediated multiorgan failure. Conventional, widely utilized techniques to assess VILI risk rely on airway pressure, flow, and volume changes, and remain essential tools for determining overdistension of aerated lung regions, particularly when interpreted cognizant of their limitations. Emerging bedside tools identify regional differences in mechanics, but further study is required to identify how they might best be incorporated into clinical practice.
Quantifying patient-specific risk of VILI requires understanding each patient's pulmonary mechanics in context of biological predisposition. Tailoring support at bedside according to these factors affords the greatest opportunity to date for mitigating VILI and alleviating associated morbidity.