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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2012 Apr 1;185(7):702-8. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201109-1667PP. Epub 2012 Jan 6.

The role of ventilation-induced surfactant dysfunction and atelectasis in causing acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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Department of Medicine, Denver Health, Denver, Colorado 80204-4507, USA.


This Pulmonary Perspective describes a new pathophysiologic scenario by which the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) might develop, summarizes the literature on which this new scenario is based, and discusses the resulting implications with respect to patient management. Rather than ARDS occurring as a result of the inflammatory response associated with predisposing risk factors, the proposed scenario theorizes that the initiating problem is atelectasis that develops as a result of a surfactant abnormality that is caused by spontaneous or mechanical ventilation, together with our current approaches to patient positioning and sedation. The proposed pathophysiology implies that ventilation-induced lung injury occurs before, and causes, ARDS (rather than developing after the fact and only serving to magnify the existing injury) and that some instances of ARDS are iatrogenic. If the proposed scenario is correct, it also implies that at least some instances of ARDS might be prevented by implementing a number of simple, safe modifications in patient care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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