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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999 Jul;160(1):77-85.

Expiratory washout versus optimization of mechanical ventilation during permissive hypercapnia in patients with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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Réanimation Chirurgicale Pierre Viars, Department of Anesthesiology, La Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, University of Paris VI, France.


The aim of this study was to compare three ventilatory techniques for reducing PaCO2 in patients with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome treated with permissive hypercapnia: (1) expiratory washout alone at a flow of 15 L/min, (2) optimized mechanical ventilation defined as an increase in the respiratory frequency to the maximal rate possible without development of intrinsic positive end- expiratory pressure (PEEP) combined with a reduction of the instrumental dead space, and (3) the combination of both methods. Tidal volume was set according to the pressure-volume curve in order to obtain an inspiratory plateau airway pressure equal to the upper inflection point minus 2 cm H2O after setting the PEEP at 2 cm H2O above the lower inflection point and was kept constant throughout the study. The three modalities were compared at the same inspiratory plateau airway pressure through an adjustment of the extrinsic PEEP. During conventional mechanical ventilation using a respiratory frequency of 18 breaths/min, respiratory acidosis (PaCO2 = 84 +/- 24 mm Hg and pH = 7.21 +/- 0.12) was observed. Expiratory washout and optimized mechanical ventilation (respiratory frequency of 30 +/- 4 breaths/min) had similar effects on CO2 elimination (DeltaPaCO2 = -28 +/- 11% versus -27 +/- 12%). A further decrease in PaCO2 was observed when both methods were combined (DeltaPaCO2 = -46 +/- 7%). Extrinsic PEEP had to be reduced by 5.3 +/- 2.1 cm H2O during expiratory washout and by 7.3 +/- 1.3 cm H2O during the combination of the two modes, whereas it remained unchanged during optimized mechanical ventilation alone. In conclusion, increasing respiratory rate and reducing instrumental dead space during conventional mechanical ventilation is as efficient as expiratory washout to reduce PaCO2 in patients with severe ARDS and permissive hypercapnia. When used in combination, both techniques have additive effects and result in PaCO2 levels close to normal values.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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