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Highly Accessed Open Badges Editorial

When pressure does not mean volume? Body mass index may account for the dissociation

Vito Fanelli123 and V Marco Ranieri3*

Author Affiliations

1 The Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5B 1W8

2 Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5B 1W8

3 Department of Anestesia and Critical Care, Ospedale S. Giovanni Battista-Molinette, corso Dogliotti 14, 10126, University of Turin, Turin, Italy

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Critical Care 2011, 15:143  doi:10.1186/cc10077

Please see related research by Mattingley et al,

Published: 25 March 2011


Low tidal volume (VT 6 ml/predicted body weight) pressure limited (plateau pressure <30 cmH2O) protective ventilation as proposed by the ARDS Network was associated with an improvement in mortality and is considered the gold standard for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) ventilation strategies. Limiting plateau pressure minimizes ventilator-induced lung injury by reducing the trans-pulmonary pressure, which is the real alveolar distending pressure. However, in the presence of chest wall elastance impairment, as observed in obese patients, plateau pressure underestimates the trans-pulmonary pressure and derecrutiment at low distending pressure could occur. Moreover, low tidal volume to keep plateau pressure <30 cmH2O could be associated with large differences compared to measured total lung capacity. Quantitative bedside techniques that are able to measure lung volumes together with trans-pulmonary pressure could expand our chances to tailor mechanical ventilation in ARDS patients.