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Crit Care. 2007;11(4):R77.

Mechanical ventilation with lower tidal volumes does not influence the prescription of opioids or sedatives.

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Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



We compared the effects of mechanical ventilation with a lower tidal volume (V(T)) strategy versus those of greater V(T) in patients with or without acute lung injury (ALI)/acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) on the use of opioids and sedatives.


This is a secondary analysis of a previously conducted before/after intervention study, which consisting of feedback and education on lung protective mechanical ventilation using lower V(T). We evaluated the effects of this intervention on medication prescriptions from days 0 to 28 after admission to our multidisciplinary intensive care unit.


Medication prescriptions in 23 patients before and 38 patients after intervention were studied. Of these patients, 10 (44%) and 15 (40%) suffered from ALI/ARDS. The V(T) of ALI/ARDS patients declined from 9.7 ml/kg predicted body weight (PBW) before to 7.8 ml/kg PBW after the intervention (P = 0.007). For patients who did not have ALI/ARDS there was a trend toward a decline from 10.2 ml/kg PBW to 8.6 ml/kg PBW (P = 0.073). Arterial carbon dioxide tension was significantly greater after the intervention in ALI/ARDS patients. Neither the proportion of patients receiving opioids or sedatives, or prescriptions at individual time points differed between pre-intervention and post-intervention. Also, there were no statistically significant differences in doses of sedatives and opioids. Findings were no different between non-ALI/ARDS patients and ALI/ARDS patients.


Concerns regarding sedation requirements with use of lower V(T) are unfounded and should not preclude its use in patients with ALI/ARDS.

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