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Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is an acute inflammatory lung injury, associated with increased pulmonary vascular permeability, increased lung weight, and loss of aerated lung tissue. There remains limited information about the epidemiology, recognition, management, and outcomes of patients with the ARDS, but in-hospital mortality is still high for those with moderate and severe ARDS (40.3% and 46.1%, respectively). Mechanical ventilation does not cure ARDS but simply buys time by maintaining a gas exchange sufficient for survival. The guiding principle of mechanical ventilation of ARDS is the new setting is less harmful to the lung structure than the previous one, thus avoiding the ventilator induced lung injury (VILI). Among outcome studies testing different tidal volumes, only the study comparing the two extreme values tested (6 mL/kg versus 12 mL/kg) showed a significant benefit of lower tidal volume. ‘The best positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP)’ does not exist. Recruitment maneuvers (RMs) are helpful in increasing aerated lung volume, which decreases strain and tidal recruitment/derecruitment. There is no definitive evidence regarding the clinical effectiveness of RMs to improve clinical outcomes of ARDS patients, although RMs may decrease the mortality of patients with ARDS without increasing the risk for major adverse events. There is no evidence for a difference between pressure control versus volume control ventilation in terms of physiological outcome or mortality. The effect of respiratory rate on the occurrence of VILI or outcome in ARDS has not been independently studied. Increasing inspiratory time has been suggested to improve oxygenation. Prone position (PP) is a standard practice in clinical treatment of ARDS patients to improve systemic oxygenation to any patient with moderate or severe ARDS as it may confer a statistically significant mortality advantage. There is evidence that neuromusculal blockade by cisatracurium besylate has an outcome benefit in ARDS patients since they improve lung mechanics and lung inflammation. Optimal dosing and monitoring strategies will need to be further studied.

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Mechanical ventilation can have adverse effects on pulmonary function. The present review focuses on what has recently emerged as one of the most serious potential complications of mechanical ventilation, ventilation-induced lung injury (VILI). For the purposes of this review, the forms of lung injury will be discussed according to the following headings: barotrauma, volutrauma, atelectrauma, and biotrauma.

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Mechanical ventilation can have adverse effects on pulmonary function. The present review focuses on the effects of perioperative mechanical ventilation and its role in ventilator-induced lung injury. For the purposes of this review, lung protective ventilatory strategies will be discussed.

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