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Crit Care. 2013 Mar 12;17(2):123. doi: 10.1186/cc12516.

Initial ventilator settings for critically ill patients.


The lung-protective mechanical ventilation strategy has been standard practice for management of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) for more than a decade. Observational data, small randomized studies and two recent systematic reviews suggest that lung protective ventilation is both safe and potentially beneficial in patients who do not have ARDS at the onset of mechanical ventilation. Principles of lung-protective ventilation include: a) prevention of volutrauma (tidal volume 4 to 8 ml/kg predicted body weight with plateau pressure<30 cmH2O); b) prevention of atelectasis (positive end-expiratory pressure‚Č•5 cmH2O, as needed recruitment maneuvers); c) adequate ventilation (respiratory rate 20 to 35 breaths per minute); and d) prevention of hyperoxia (titrate inspired oxygen concentration to peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2) levels of 88 to 95%). Most patients tolerate lung protective mechanical ventilation well without the need for excessive sedation. Patients with a stiff chest wall may tolerate higher plateau pressure targets (approximately 35 cmH2O) while those with severe ARDS and ventilator asynchrony may require a short-term neuromuscular blockade. Given the difficulty in timely identification of patients with or at risk of ARDS and both the safety and potential benefit in patients without ARDS, lung-protective mechanical ventilation is recommended as an initial approach to mechanical ventilation in both perioperative and critical care settings.

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